This week's Just Transition Summit in Taranaki will give the Government an opportunity to frontfoot its ambitious energy goals.
The two-day conference has some big names including filmmakers and environmental advocates James and Suzy
Cameron, Midnight Oil musician/environmentalist/former Australian environment minister Peter Garrett. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is scheduled to speak among others including academics, company chiefs, unions, iwi, and - in keeping with the times - high school students.
Expect to hear more from Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods than last week when the Government announced another 2200sq km of land being opened up for oil and gas exploration but, in accordance with its announcement last April, there would be no new offshore permitted. Unlike the fanfare surrounding previous National governments' opening up of vast areas of land and ocean bed for exploration, the minister pointed out the obvious and not much more; this was the first onshore offer.
For the Government, the Block Offer announcement was also an inconvenient beacon to those who didn't think it's gone nearly far enough, stirring Greenpeace to demand an end to developing new fossil fuel infrastructure and a phased ban on petrol and diesel vehicle imports.
In the other corner, Petroleum Exploration and Production New Zealand diplomatically welcomed the offer and took the opportunity to restate its view that the country remains heavily reliant on gas in particular - about 400,000 businesses and households use either natural gas or LPG for heat, cooking and industrial purposes. The association also points out gas keeps prices down when other sources are scarce.
This was emphasised yesterday when new figures showed wholesale electricity prices had this week climbed to four times those a year earlier because of a maintenance shutdown at the country's biggest gas field, Pohokura.
The goal of moving to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2035 seemed a long way off during summer when Genesis reported burning more than it had for the past five years to make up for tight gas supplies and low hydro storage.
Government body the Interim Climate Change Committee has already warned of big electricity price rises as a result of the transition plan.
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Hydro electricity generation opportunities have effectively all been tapped, wind farms remain difficult to consent in many areas and solar panels on large numbers of homes and businesses present transmission challenges. Battery storage advances provide hope for this on-site decentralised generation and there is hope for hydrogen as a viable large scale fuel source.
The solutions are some way away but the data around the need for them keeps coming. A UN report yesterday said permitting climate change from the burning of fossil fuels — making it too hot, wet or dry for some species to survive — had already impacted on half of the world's land mammals and nearly a quarter of the birds.
The conversation at the summit is well worth having, and there will be some big questions posed. There will however, be little hope of any easy answers.