Govt defends renewable goal after blunder

The Government is standing by its commitment to renewable energy after a draft strategy signalling a considerable boost to the oil and coal sectors was mistakenly released by officials.

The draft was accidentally posted online by government officials weeks ahead of its approval by Cabinet.

It reaffirmed the Government's commitment to a target of 90 percent renewable energy production by 2025, but also signalled increased coal and oil extraction were priorities.

The draft has already come under criticism from environmental groups and opposition parties who say it will do little to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with one describing it as "a compilation of vague intentions".

The 12 areas of focus outlined in the strategy are little changed from an earlier draft put forward for public consultation in July, which received about 350 unique submissions.

The latest draft said New Zealand should ensure it was a "highly attractive global destination" for investment in oil exploration and production, with the goal of fully realising the potential of the country's oil resources.

"Further commercialisation of petroleum and mineral fuel resources has the potential to produce a step change in economic growth for the country."

Acting Energy and Resources Minister Hekia Parata said in the draft's foreword that responsible development of the country's oil and coal resources was a priority.

"For too long now we have not made the most of the wealth hidden in our hills, under the ground, and in our oceans."

Ms Parata today stressed the draft report had not been finalised and was yet to be approved by Cabinet, which was due to take place within the next few weeks.

The Government's approach to energy would explore all potential sources, she said.

"The final mix will relate to the objectives we are balancing in terms of environmental management, sound economic direction and building a very solid base for our economy," she told Radio New Zealand.

New Zealand was on target to reach its goal of 90 percent renewable energy production, she said.

"We've achieved 74 percent of renewable energy which is the highest in 12 years."

Ms Parata noted the most recent report from the International Energy Agency (IAE), released last week, had praised New Zealand's energy goals and the mix of energy sources currently in use.

"It commended New Zealand for our continued approach to achieving 90 percent of our needs through renewable energy."

However, the IEA report also said the Government's strategy was "missing a firm set of actions to achieve its stated goals".

The IEA wanted additional policies to boost clean energy generation, as it was uncertain that the current emissions trading scheme would be sufficient.

Worldwide Fund for Nature climate change spokesman Peter Hardstaff said the draft strategy was inadequate because it contained hardly any clear, time-bound objectives.

"It's not really a strategy -- what we've got at the moment is a compilation of vague intentions," he told NZPA.

There had been barely any changes to the key areas of focus despite public submissions on the strategy, he said.

"They've changed the diagram, which is nice. They've got a little circle now."

Green Party energy spokesman Kennedy Graham said the draft showed the Government lacked a logical and coherent energy plan.

Coal Action Network Aotearoa spokeswoman Frances Mountier said the draft showed the Government's commitment to greenhouse gas emissions was "a sham", and the strategy would instead lead to major emissions increases.



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