Groups launch petition to ban all new fossil fuel expansion by 2022

Over twenty groups so far, representing communities across Aotearoa directly affected by mining and drilling alongside iwi representatives, students, environment and health organisations such as Coal Action Aotearoa Network, Climate Justice Taranaki, Taranaki Energy Watch, Ora Taiao, Fridays for Future, 350, Generation Zero, Oxfam, Forest & Bird and WWF launched a petition with protests today, calling on the government to end all new fossil fuel extraction as soon as next year.

The petition calls to “ban any new oil and gas prospecting, exploration and mining permits including extensions of existing permits in Taranaki and to ban any new coal mines or expansion of existing coal mines in Aotearoa by 2022.” It also focuses on existing permits calling for “an end to prospecting, exploration and re-drilling in all existing fossil fuel permits by 2025 to allow only for current production to come to an end.”

“Essentially the petition is an urgent demand that the government do more and do it faster to transition us off fossil fuels,” says Climate Justice Taranaki spokesperson Tuhi-Ao Bailey. “We can’t ask for communities to urgently reduce their energy use and change their lifestyles while the government still allows fossil fuel companies to continue extraction for decades. We are in a climate emergency and need to transition off fossil fuels urgently. Carbon neutral by 2050 is far too late.”

“Energy provinces hold solutions for energy security in Aotearoa through demonstrating a substantial reduction and re-prioritisation of energy use across all sectors with careful investment in public controlled renewable energies, a shift from the export-import economy to a domestic focused economy, and investment in our communities to transition safely and fairly off fossil fuels.”

“The oil and gas industry has exploited Taranaki for over a century,” says Sarah Roberts of Taranaki Energy Watch. “The contaminant discharges of the industry into the land, water and air degrade our environment and negatively impact on the people who live nearby. A recent Court case and local district plan shows there are potential fatality risks and consequences beyond the boundaries of petroleum sites.”

“2021 has seen an alarming increase of petroleum activities in Taranaki, with Todd Energy’s 24 new wells being drilled around Tikorangi and Greymouth Petroleum’s widespread seismic surveys across the province. Seismic surveys using explosives or vibroseis trucks are highly invasive, with risks of damage to water supply, structures, land value and the well-being of people and animals. The industry does not have a social license to continue to operate in Taranaki.”

Tim Jones, spokesperson for Coal Action Network Aotearoa said “the coal industry continues to seek resource consents for new and expanded coal mines, despite the social and environmental harms locally and globally, and the urgent need for heat plants, boilers and electricity generation to transition to 100% renewable energy. There is no place for new or expanded coal mines in a climate emergency. We need a planned, just transition to low-carbon jobs for coal mining communities.”

“The continuation of coal, oil and gas exploration, extraction and reliance is not consistent with our obligations to reduce greenhouse emissions and contribute to keeping global warming below 1.5C. Energy experts like Dr Sven Teske, the UNEP Production Gap Report, and even the International Energy Agency now all agree that there’s no room for new fossil fuel production if we are to limit warming to 1.5ºC. Aotearoa is not doing enough and has been pushed to give multinational companies like Methanex and Rio Tinto a free ride while stockpiling masses of unspent carbon credits from polluters and not planting enough trees fast enough to counter our emissions.”

“Current petroleum production permits alone can allow for transition away from fossil fuels if serious efforts are put into reducing and re-prioritising energy use,” continued Bailey. “Methanex alone uses up 40% of Taranaki’s fossil gas production to essentially make plastic. Early closure of the plant, before the currently suggested 2040, would free up substantial amounts of energy needed for essential services and transitioning communities instead”.

“The Taranaki Regional and District Councils Mayors, along with many others, have all signed onto the Local Government Leaders Climate Change Declaration. It is time to deliver the promises – implement ambitious emissions reduction action plans and support resilience within councils and local communities. These will substantially benefit our communities, create new jobs and business opportunities, improve public health, and create stronger, more connected communities.”

Link to the petition

Groups in support of the petition:

Climate Justice Taranaki

Taranaki Energy Watch

Coal Action Network Aotearoa
Ora Taiao: New Zealand Climate and Health Council
Pou Take Ahuarangi, National Iwi Chairs Forum

Para Kore
Pacific Panther Network
Te Waka Hourua
Generation Zero
Fridays for Future, Wellington
350 Aotearoa
Oxfam Aotearoa
Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of NZ
Parents For Climate Aotearoa
Environment & Conservation Organisation of Aotearoa NZ (ECO)
World Wildlife Foundation (WWF-NZ)
Extinction Rebellion Aotearoa NZ
Environmental Justice Otepoti
Frack Free Aotearoa NZ
Ecologic Foundation
Wise Response Society Inc
Waikato Environment Centre Trust (Go Eco)
Stop The Coal Monster Campaign, Nelson Tasman
The Rubbish Trip