Government intent on pouring crude oil on clean green New Zealand

Press release - October 7, 2010
Oil-smeared’ people walked through central Wellington today to protest Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee’s reckless determination to dig and drill for more dirty fossil fuels while ignoring the impacts on climate change.

On the eve of the close of submissions on the Review of the Crown Minerals Act(1) Greenpeace supporters delivered its submission in dramatic style covering themselves in fake oil (molasses and water) to mimic the impact of a crude oil spill on New Zealand shores. The Greenpeace submission, along with an ongoing petition which has more than 18,000 signatures, calls for the Government to stop the development of new oil and coal reserves and to start investing in building a clean economy.

“By declaring open season on our oil reserves, the Government is playing Russian roulette with our pristine coastlines, our international reputation and the climate,” says Greenpeace Climate Campaigner Nathan Argent.

“The climate crisis is close to tipping point and it is irresponsible to be prospecting for new reserves of fossil fuels. New Zealand should be on the side of pioneering real progress towards a clean and sustainable energy future rather than being shackled to Gerry Brownlee’s 19th century way of doing business.

“The fact that many of the reserves are in extreme areas - like up to 3000 metres under the Raukumara Basin off the spectacular East Cape of the North Island – will push the technology to the limits and it would be near impossible to prevent a catastrophe if something went wrong.”

As the fossil fuel era ends the clean technology industry is experiencing rapid global growth. Investment in clean energy has eclipsed that of fossil fuels for the second year running by attracting US$140bn compared with US$110bn for gas, coal and nuclear power.(2)

Argent says the Minister for Energy and Resources has prioritised investment in fossil fuels by spending over $20 million of taxpayer’s money prospecting on behalf of overseas oil companies, whilst spending just one per cent of this figure on investment in biofuels projects.(3)

“If the Government is genuinely trying to achieve sustainable, economic prosperity and energy security, it should build on our position as a global leader in clean renewable energy and provide greater support and investment in companies like Wellington based HTS 110 who are designing world class, super efficient systems for transmitting renewable energy.

“Most importantly, in backing clean energy innovation we’ll stand a good chance of making the sort of cuts to our emissions that are essential if the world is to avoid a state of runaway climate change,” concluded Argent.

Mike Smith Maori activist representative of the Tuanuku Climate Change Network joined the protest said drilling off the East Coast of New Zealand “was environmental insanity”.

The Greenpeace petition demanding the end to the development of new oil and coal reserves and investment in building a clean economy can still be signed at:


For more information

Nathan Argent, Greenpeace New Zealand climate campaigner, 021 971 234

Phil Crawford, Greenpeace New Zealand media & communications, 021 22 99 594

Notes to Editor

(1) Global Trends in Green Energy 2009: New Power Capacity from Renewable Sources Tops Fossil Fuels Again in US, Europe. UNEP, July 2010