End of oil exploration permits historic for Māori , but battle not over

Oil, gas exploration move a 'kick in the guts' for Taranaki - mayor

"There will be no further offshore oil and gas exploration permits granted", Jacinda Ardern said in a written statement on the ministry's webpage.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who campaigned heavily on preventing climate change in the run-up to last year's tight election, said the decision was a responsible step and provided certainty for businesses and communities. Her government plans to plant a billion trees over 10 years and wants to achieve 100% renewable electricity generation by 2035 as it seeks to reduce carbon emissions after signing up to the Paris climate accord.

Today, the Coalition Government announced an end to the annual offshore "Block Offer" process, which sees hundreds of thousands of square kilometres of New Zealand land and sea being offered to companies to explore for oil and gas.

Ardern said, "There are 31 oil and gas exploration permits now active, 22 are offshore". She said in the Facebook video in making this decision, she considered ensuring security of supply; job security, especially for places where jobs center around the fossil fuel industry; and meeting their obligations and ambitions around tackling climate change. "Just as New Zealand did in 1987 when it went nuclear-free and stood up to the powerful USA military, this has shown bold global leadership on the greatest challenge of our time - putting people ahead of the interests of oil corporations and the hunt for fossil fuels that are driving risky climate change", Norman continued.

While permits for searching for onshore oil and gas reserves will continue and existing offshore permits would not be touched, Ardern said the decision was about "setting our expectations for the future".

The policy was "crude and unnecessary" and "blights New Zealand's entire energy sector", the council's executive director, John Carnegie said.

Environmental group Greenpeace hailed Ardern's move.

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But National says the announcement is a step backwards, especially for Taranaki, with no new onshore permits granted outside of the Taranaki area.

For years Māori have fought against major global oil companies, with 31 active oil and gas permits in the country now, the last of those is set to end in 2030.

In December a year ago, France's parliament has also approved a law prohibiting all oil and gas exploration and production within the country and its overseas territories by 2040.

"This is a death sentence for some of our towns, and it doesn't help climate change - in fact it is the opposite of that". "These changes will simply shift production elsewhere in the world, not reduce emissions", he said.

Ardern said permits can last for years, and "that's why we have to make decisions with really long lead times about what we do in the future".

"We are protecting existing exploration and mining rights". New Zealand has stood up to one of the most powerful industries in the world.

The decision will only apply to new permits that are put out to tender annually, with existing licenses not to be affected.

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