Gareth Hughes

The September 20 deep sea oil drilling choice

by Gareth Hughes

This Election, voters have a very clear choice for New Zealand’s energy future: more fracking as National advocates, more risky deep sea drilling as Labour supports, or more clean energy like solar that the Greens are pushing.

The Green Party is strongly pushing for a 100% renewable electricity system and reducing oil imports because it will deliver more jobs, more regional economic development, and healthier cities. We support clean energy because it addresses the greatest threat facing us, climate change, described as ‘a clear and present danger’ in a U.S Government climate report out today.

However in what seemed to be a tacit admission of the low priority Labour give climate change, Labour re-committed to deep sea oil drilling, late on Monday evening, as part of an environment policy announcement.

Climate change is the defining moral, environmental and economic issue of our time and with Labour last night recommitting to supporting deep sea drilling, it’s clear that the Green Party is  the only political party that will seriously address the climate crisis. Recently, United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres said “There is no doubt that most of the fossil fuel reserves we have world-wide will have to stay in the ground” to avoid warming beyond 2 degrees Celcius.

Labour have announced they will end the subsidies for oil drilling they began in the last Government, which is to be applauded, but they have also decided they won’t require a backup relief rig to be present for deep sea drilling operations in New Zealand. As Anadarako’s own oil spill reports show, New Zealand could be waiting 110 days for a relief rig to travel here in the event of a blowout and spill. Can you imagine, 110 days of oil pouring out and washing up on our beaches, killing our sea life, wreaking destruction while a relief rig slowly steams south? If risky deep sea oil drilling is going to happen, requiring a relief rig is one of many steps needed to protect our environment and our economy that depends on it.

The fact is, hoping for oil is not a credible economic strategy; searching for oil wastes precious time in transitioning to clean energy, and actually finding oil and burning it is reckless in the extreme if we want a safe climate for our kids.

This election, voters have a choice: if you want to stop deep sea oil drilling and focus on a clean energy economy, we need to see as many Green MPs around that negotiating table as possible after September 20.

Published in Environment & Resource Management by Gareth Hughes on Tue, May 6th, 2014   

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