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Asia Minute: New Zealand Bans Future Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration

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The Trump Administration has proposed a number of policy changes when it comes to offshore leases for oil and gas exploration and drilling. This week, New Zealand announced that it is taking a dramatically different approach to the same issue. HPR’s Bill Dorman has details in today’s Asia Minute.

New Zealand is banning all future offshore oil and gas exploration.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the move “an important step to address climate change and create a clean, green and sustainable future for New Zealand.” The policy change does NOT affect nearly two dozen already existing offshore oil and gas exploration permits—each of which could lead to future production if it makes economic sense.

But it’s a significant change to the country’s energy future.

New Zealand has a goal of using 100-percent renewable sources for its electricity by the year 2035. As a comparison, that’s ten years ahead of the goal of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative and the Hawaiian Electric Companies.

Critics call the Prime Minister’s action “reckless” and “a political stunt.” The head of the Petroleum and Production Association of New Zealand says industry leaders were not consulted about the policy change; adding that it will cost jobs and increase the price of energy.

Credit Governor-General of New Zealand / Wikimedia Commons
CC BY 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

Supporters called it a “historic step.”

The head of Greenpeace New Zealand said “the tide has turned irreversibly against big oil in New Zealand.”

The Ardern government is expected to put out further details about how it plans to manage the transition away from oil and gas and towards an increased use of renewable fuels.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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