The Government is taking the Rachel Hunter approach to banning oil and gas exploration.

It may not happen overnight but it will happen.

The only question, the Prime Minister has now made clear, is not "if" but "when" and "how" the transition will work.

We don't know yet whether it will be a transition of five, 10 or 20 years.


But one thing we do know is that she won't be able to keep both Greenpeace and New Zealand First happy on this one.

Her hugely symbolic and unannounced decision to appear in front of Parliament to receive a petition from Greenpeace to end oil and gas exploration just about said it all.

The Government was actively considering their request, she told up to 50 climate change activists whom she described as "our conscience".

And if Ardern's appearance didn't quite say everything, when she was asked at a post-Cabinet press conference if a decision had been already been made to move on from fossil fuels and she said "the world has".

The devil will be in the detail. And the details of what the Government calls a "just transition" to a non-fossil-fuel future looks set to be announced next month at the same time as the future or fate of the 2018 Block Offer is made clear.

The Block Offer - when oil companies tender to the Government for the right to explore specified parts of New Zealand - is not that critical to the bigger decisions.

In all likelihood, even a National-led Government would have ended the Block Offer process because interest in it by oil companies has been waning in recent years.

But the Government is going to set in law a goal for zero net carbon emissions by 2050.


Greenpeace and the Greens want the accelerator planted (on the EV) to get decisions made and the framework in place to achieve that goal.

Banning future exploration of fossil fuels is basic.

New Zealand First's loyalty lies more with the regions which it thinks should be getting greater advantage from the exploration in its area and as the driver of the billion trees, is more into mitigation.

Timing will be everything.