350 Aotearoa is calling to question the Government’s commitment to a just transition to a low carbon future following yesterday’s Block Offer announcement.  Yesterday Minister of Energy and Resources, Hon Megan Woods, launched Block Offer 2018, inviting oil and gas companies to apply for permits to explore in onshore Taranaki. This Block Offer comes the week before MBIE hosts the Just Transition Summit in New Plymouth. Onshore exploration was exempt from the government’s widely celebrated ban on new offshore oil and gas projects through the Crown Minerals (Petroleum) Amendment Bill that passed in November last year.

350 Aotearoa spokesperson Niamh O’Flynn says “If our government is serious about tackling climate change, they need to step up and halt all new fossil fuel exploration and block offers. Every new block offered up to industry reduces our chances of being able to facilitate a just transition to a clean energy future. The people affected by climate impacts aren’t going to differentiate whether the damage to our climate was caused by fossil fuels from onshore or offshore, the warming is the same.”

Climate science shows that 80% of known fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground to keep our climate below the 2 degree temperature limit agreed to by our government in the Paris Agreement.

The launch of Block Offer 2018 comes 9 days before MBIE is set to host the Just Transitions Summit in Taranaki, focused on “Shaping our pathway to a low emissions future”.

“The pathway to a low emissions future won’t look very promising if new blocks of Aotearoa continue to be offered up to the fossil fuel industry. The Just Transitions Summit is an opportunity for oil and gas industry workers, unions, iwi and local community groups to come together with government and make a plan to transition away from fossil fuels. Opening up new permits for oil and gas flies in the face of a serious commitment to a just transition.”

New permits lock New Zealand into another phase of oil and gas exploration, and potentially extraction. Permits granted in Block Offer 2018 will have a duration of 10 years (as specified in Schedule 7) based on the location of the permits. 350 Aotearoa spokesperson says we cannot afford to be relying on fossil fuels for another 10 years.

The IPCC says we must limit warming to no more than 1.5C if we are to avoid the worst and most catastrophic impacts of climate breakdown. To do this, we must stop all new fossil fuel projects, and transition rapidly to 100% renewable and socially just energy for all. This requires strong leadership from our government and Hon Megan Woods to support industry workers into the clean energy economy.”