New Zealand bans new offshore oil exploration to tackle climate change

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On the question of supply, Ms Ardern said there were 31 active oil and gas exploration permits, including 22 offshore.

"We have been a world leader on critical issues to humanity by being nuclear free.and now we could be world leading in becoming carbon neutral", she told university students in the country's capital, Wellington.

Simon Bridges, " the leader of this center right National Party, New Zealand's main opposition party, said on Twitter that the choice to end oil and gas exploration was "a wrecking chunk" that might just hurt the country.

The stance was well signalled in February, when Minister of Energy and Resources Megan Woods extended an offshore oil and gas exploration permit off Oamaru, stating the alternative would have been a judicial review of the permitting process.

"It is time to also retire the applications and permits held over the large tracts of our sea that the previous government opened to exploration under its block offers".

The Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand said the government's decision is a "lose-lose for New Zealand's economy and environment, likely to threaten jobs" and would "mean higher prices for consumers".

Jobs are unlikely to be lost tomorrow, but some companies will decide additional investment is better spent elsewhere while others may avoid New Zealand altogether.

"We owe this to future generations".

The Government has made the first big decision on its way to tackling climate change, but the serious test still awaits.

"This is a huge step forward for New Zealand and a landmark moment in the transition to a clean-energy economy", WWF New Zealand chief Livia Esterhazy said. She said her goal is for all of the electricity New Zealand uses to come from renewable energy sources by 2035.

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Today's decision will put paid to those hopes.

But New Zealand National Party MP Jonathan Young described the move as "economic vandalism".

He said: "This decision is devoid of any rationale. It certainly has nothing to do with climate change", he said.

Tens of thousands of people, alongside iwi, have marched, protested, petitioned and successfully lobbied their local representatives to oppose oil exploration over the last seven years.

However, Carnegie said the policy undermined the emissions trading scheme, and that the BEC believed "market mechanisms are better than bans".

"We now join the elite club of Belize, Costa Rica and France that have banned exploration".

The Prime Minister said that she has taken a responsible step which will give certainty for businesses and communities that depend on fossil fuels.

"But nonetheless this is still a very significant decision and I think it will be globally significant".

Ardern said industry had been given plenty of time to adjust to changes in the sector that were a long-term necessity. "We all signed up to the Paris Agreement that said we were moving towards carbon neutrality and now we need to act on it".

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