Strong resistance from locals and climate activists have forced fossil fuel lobby group ‘Energy Resources Aotearoa’ (formerly the Petroleum Exploration & Production Association of NZ) to cancel all in-person elements of their planned ‘Energy Resources Taranaki Forum’ – scheduled for 12 June. The decision was made just three working days before the conference begins, and comes after broad public opposition to the forum. Over 20,000 people protested against the coalition government’s fast track bill and war on nature on saterday – the day before Shane Jones annouced the Government will push on with their attempts to repeal the oil and gas ban.

Blockade spokesperson and 350 Aotearoa campaigner Adam Currie says ‘Fossil fuel companies know that they are not welcome here. Today’s last-minute decision to cancel the fossil fuel conference shows that the fossil fuel industry lacks the social license to operate. Hundreds of ordinary New Zealanders were prepared to blockade this fossil fuel conference – knowing that climate-killing coal, oil and gas has no place in our future. Once again, people power has forced big oil to change their dirty plans for this land.”

“Over 80 coastal hapū – alongside other environmental groups and thousands of concerned New Zealanders – successfully fought off oil company after oil company. Even if this government tries to roll out the red carpet for fossil fuel projects with the fast-track – these companies know they have no social license to operate here. The commercial interest in fossil fuels is fading – with increasing levels of uncertainty, market pressures, lack of a social license to operate, and difficulties with insurance and financing. This has all rendered the Ministers annoucement meaningless,” says Currie.

In-person conference attendees would have included ExxonMobil, Todd Energy, Beach Energy, OMV and Methanex – speaking alongside Government Ministers like Simeon Brown and Shane Jones. Sessions included panels with oil companies about how to build social license, and the role of the fast-track in energy production.

“Increasing numbers of New Zealanders – Māori and tauiwi – are making it clear that fossil fuels are not welcome here. They are not welcome to drill for oil & gas, they are not welcome to damage our marine environment – and they are certainly not welcome to pollute the air we breathe and contribute to one in every ten deaths in this country.

“Instead of talking about how to ram through extractive fossil fuel projects, we should be focused on how to achieve a swift and just decarbonisation for Taranaki and for Aotearoa. We need an energy strategy that restores power to communities and enables us to produce and power our lives with our own clean, affordable power. Our movements and communities will continue to defend the earth against the fossil fuels that threaten the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the places we call home.”