Environmentalists are demanding the Government drop oil
and gas exploration around the country in the wake of the
latest report on climate change.
Minister of Energy and Resources, Simon Bridges, on Wednesday
announced the annual 2014 block offer for oil and gas
exploration, which covers more than 400,000sq km.
The 2014 offer is twice the size of last year's.
The largest swathe is the combined offshore Great South Basin
and Canterbury Basin areas, almost 142,000sq km.
Forest & Bird advocacy manager Kevin Hackwell said the
block offer covered more than 925,200ha of land, and more
than 39 million ha of ocean.
The onshore blocks included ''vast tracts'' of lowland public
conservation land on the South Island's West Coast, ''a
swathe'' of the Ruahine forest park, and lowland forest
remnants in eastern Taranaki.
''The Government is pumping tens of millions of dollars into
seismic surveys and the like to make New Zealand a more
attractive destination for the fossil fuels industry,'' he
Oil Free Otago spokeswoman Rosemary Penwarden labelled the
block offer a ''giant leap backwards'', given the effects on
Dunedin posed by climate change.
She said Mr Bridges' block offer came two days after the
International Panel on Climate Change released the second
part of its fifth report.
''New Zealand can expect more frequent and severe flooding
and heatwaves, more rainfall on the already wet west coast
and less in the east and northeast, and sea level rise of up
to 1m,'' she said.
To keep within the 2degC limit of global warming, agreed to
by the world's governments, most of the oil, gas and coal
already discovered had to stay unburned, she said.
Mr Hackwell said instead of ''handouts'' to those ''old
industries'', the money should be used to ''create a
sustainable economy which fits with our clean green image''.
''Whether it be from the risk of spills, the lasting legacy
of contaminated sites, or from climate change, Simon Bridges'
garage sale of the rights to our pristine oceans and
treasured forest areas could leave a lasting impact on our
natural heritage,'' he said in a statement.
Mr Hackwell said the ''sell-off of deep-sea rights underlines
the sad fact'' that more than 99% of New Zealand's Exclusive
Economic Zone (EEZ) is open for exploitation by the fossil
fuels industry, while ''only a tiny fraction'' of the EEZ was
fully protected from exploration activity, with full marine
''As modelling done by the oil industry itself has shown, a
deep-water oil blowout could foul vast tracts of ocean and
coastline. This would significantly impact on seabirds,
marine mammals, fish and other marine life,'' Mr Hackwell