Greenpeace gives 'wake up' call on fossil fuel use

By Lindy Laird

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Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges.
Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges.

Northland Greenpeace spokesman Mike Smith says the Government needs to wake up to the fact there is no future in fossil fuels.

He said Monday's display of civil disobedience at the Petroleum New Zealand Conference in Auckland should give people confidence that they can bring about change in a democracy - even if it means "dragging the Government, kicking and screaming into realising this country does not want or need its reckless energy strategy".

"It's recognised around the world that we have to transition away from fossil fuel," Mr Smith said.

Several hundred people carried out the sit-down protest at the SkyCity venue. It is the first time in New Zealand that Greenpeace has invited the general public to take civil disobedience action en masse. Mr Smith was not at the scene but said the action was effective because it was disruptive, non-violent and well-organised.

The Government used the conference to announce its release of another block of seabed off Northland for prospective oil drilling.

The 2016 Block Offer petroleum tender that Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges launched includes a chunk of the Reinga-Northland Basin where Norwegian fuel company Statoil already holds two permits.

The tender will close in September with the outcome likely to be announced in December.

Mr Bridges said oil was a significant export earner in New Zealand and natural gas was vital to industry, electricity generation and used in more than 300,000 homes. But Greenpeace has accused the Government of "propping up a sunset industry" and making a "desperate, last-ditch bid to try to save their failing oil plans".

Mr Smith said the block release was another indication of the Government's failure to "lift a finger to curb greenhouse emissions" or live up to its commitment to the Paris Agreement, made at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

The latest block offer includes four offshore areas, Reinga-Northland Basin, Taranaki Basin, Pegasus and East Coast Basins, and Great South-Canterbury Basin, and one onshore area in Taranaki. The combined size is 525,515sq km, including the 1062sq km onshore area, making it the largest area released since the annual block offer started in 2012.

- Northern Advocate

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