It's fantastic news for the region's coastal communities and beyond: Brazilian oil giant Petrobras has abandoned its plans for deep sea oil drilling off the coast of New Zealand!

The world's third largest oil company has decided to return its exploration licenses for deep sea oil and gas prospects to the government, effectively abandoning its plans for deep sea drilling in New Zealand.

It means the likelihood of oil from a deep sea blowout washing onto the beautiful beaches and coastline of New Zealand's East Cape and Bay of Plenty just went down by 100%.

Disrupting Oil Survey in New ZealandFacing production problems and earnings setbacks at home, Petrobras' decision to turn its back on its New Zealand prospects comes after stiff public opposition from coastal communities who feared the worst from a potential offshore oil spill.

For the past 18 months, Te Whanau a Apanui (a Maori community living on the coast near the proposed drilling sites) and Greenpeace New Zealand have been working tirelessly to stop these deep sea drilling plans.

Around 140,000 New Zealanders signed a petition opposed to the drilling plans and in April 2011, a protest flotilla hampered Petrobras’ exploration plans for a week:


This is also a major blow to the New Zealand government, which appears to have decided to hang the economic future of its country onto a fossilised industry. Last year, more money worldwide was invested in renewable energy than in fossil fuels.

The New Zealand government should heed this message.

Petrobras' decision should also be seen as a reminder to other oil giants such as Shell: public opposition to offshore oil drilling, such as in the pristine Arctic, is growing and becoming more vocal.

And as UN climate talks continue in the Qatari capital Doha, this is also a step forward for the much needed Energy Revolution that will divert us away from the fossil fuel road and put us on the path to the clean energy future that can stop climate change.

If we don’t cut fossil fuel emissions now, the world could be on track for a devastating 6 degrees Celsius warming.

We need fewer arguments about the placement of commas in potential climate rescue deals and more news about abandoned drilling plans, whether it's in New Zealand or the Arctic.