Guest essay by Eric Worrall
The New Zealand government has banned offshore oil and gas exploration as part of its 30 year quest for 100% climate purity.
New Zealand bans all new offshore oil exploration as part of ‘carbon-neutral future’
Prime minister Jacinda Ardern says move ‘will essentially take effect in 30 or more years’ time’
The New Zealand government will grant no new offshore oil exploration permits in a move that is being hailed by conservation and environmental groups as a historic victory in the battle against climate change.
The prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said her government “has a plan to transition towards a carbon-neutral future, one that looks 30 years in advance”.
“Transitions have to start somewhere and unless we make decisions today that will essentially take effect in 30 or more years’ time, we run the risk of acting too late and causing abrupt shocks to communities and our country.”
The opposition party slammed the government’s ban as “economic vandalism” and said it made no environmental sense.
“This decision will ensure the demise of an industry that provides over 8000 high-paying jobs and $2.5bn for the economy,” National’s energy and resources spokesman, Jonathan Young, said.
“This decision is devoid of any rationale. It certainly has nothing to do with climate change. These changes will simply shift production elsewhere in the world, not reduce emissions.”
I wonder if New Zealand has figured out exactly how they will switch to 100% renewables?
New Zealand is cold and mountainous, so solar power is a bit of a non-starter. The old Maori name for New Zealand Aotearoa means “Land of the Long White Cloud”. New Zealand frequently lives up to that name.
The mountains provide hydroelectric opportunities – New Zealand gets over 50% of their electricity from hydropower, though this percentage has been dropping as their economy races ahead of political will to build new hydro capacity.
Nuclear is not going to happen for the foreseeable future. New Zealand is rabidly anti-nuclear, they don’t even allow nuclear warships into their waters.
As one of the most volcanic regions in the world New Zealand has more geothermal capacity they could probably tap, though even in New Zealand suitable sites aren’t that common. When I visited Lake Taupo a few years ago, the locals I spoke to were not keen on the idea of drilling into the cap of their grumbling super volcano to tap more of its geothermal potential.
Wind power in New Zealand is an intriguing challenge. New Zealand has lots of high mountain peaks which might make good sites for wind power, but a lot of New Zealand’s geography is almost completely inaccessible, due to those same high mountain peaks and steep valleys. In winter New Zealanders really, really need energy to stay warm – much of New Zealand experiences substantial snowfall and deep frosts. Wind turbines do not work well when they are covered in ice.
Perhaps the New Zealand government has a secret power unicorn breeding farm they will shortly announce to the world.