New Zealand will stop issuing new offshore oil, gas exploration permits. The government is committed to play a central role in addressing climate changes. According to this decision, New Zealand will restrict the offer of exploration permits in the province of Taranaki in 2018 but existing exploration and any future mining permits will not be affected by the decision. Since the government seeks to reduce carbon emission after signing up to the Paris climate accord, it plans to plant a billion of trees over 10 years and intends to achieve 100% renewable electricity generation by 2035. This decision, in the view of the co-leader of Green Party, would also help New Zealand to achieves the aim of becoming carbon-neutral by 2050. However, there are also opponents to this decision.
In the view of the National Party, this decision could be regarded as “economic vandalism.” It will not tackle climate change but will have an adverse impact on employment. Relevant Industry producers also expressed concerns in regard with wastes and people’s job as the consequence of this decision. This decision is argued by industry players that it sends a worrying signal to domestic and international investors on the investment environment in New Zealand. In terms of a mining permit, relevant right based on a commercial discovery is unaffected and unchanged.
For existing exploration permits, 31 existing permits, covering more than 100,000 square kilometers, will not be affected by this decision. This means that the decision has no immediate and direct influence on gas and oil industry and does not currently affect employees in these industries.
In the view of the government, this decision expresses the signal for the industry concerning the end to exploration while the government also give the industry and users enough notice to develop new technologies and find new investment opportunities. The government will also assist regions such as Taranaki in the transition period to find investment opportunities in infrastructure and energy projects. The government suggests and insists that this decision is a responsible measures, as it not only provide certainty for investors and industries but also protect future generations of New Zealand, thus striking a right balance.