Pacific concern at NZ's return to exploration

Pacific Island states are right to think oil and gas exploration in New Zealand is an ‘‘inter-mestic’’ issue on which they deserve to have some say, Prof Robert Patman says.

The University of Otago foreign affairs specialist said this month’s Cop28 summit, in Dubai, showed New Zealand could not treat a return to oil and gas exploration as a purely domestic issue.

It was, he said, one of an increasing number of ‘‘inter-mestic’’ issues, having domestic and international implications.

Several Pacific Island countries attending the global climate summit openly expressed their irritation at New Zealand’s decision to lift its fossil fuel exploration ban.

‘‘For many countries in the Pacific Island region, climate change is their number one security issue,’’ Prof Patman said.

‘‘They see this as an unfriendly move by the government.’’

The New Zealand government now needed to manage what was being seen as an affront to island nations’ national interests.

‘‘They may have thought this was a purely domestic issue," Prof Patman  said.

‘‘But Pacific Island states quite rightly say, ‘No, climate change doesn’t recognise boundaries... and therefore we must have a say in what is going on’.’’

Speaking on Global Insight, Prof Patman also addressed a potential confrontation between the United States and Israel over its war with Hamas, and discussed the link between dysfunction in the United Nations security council and the scale of the tragedy unfolding in Gaza.