Greenpeace Aotearoa’s message to Prime Minister-elect Christopher Luxon is that starting new oil and gas exploration in the middle of a climate crisis is a crime against life on Earth, and the people of Aotearoa will rise up against it, just like we did before.

The environmental heavyweight is pledging to oppose the move and has launched an open letter to the oil industry, signalling that it would be a mistake for them to take up Luxon’s ill-considered invitation as they will face sustained civil society resistance again.

Greenpeace Aotearoa executive director Dr. Russel Norman, says, “We congratulate Prime Minister-elect Christopher Luxon and the National Party on their election result, but based on the collection of policies we’ve seen from National, Act and NZ First, this new National-led Government could be a giant leap backwards when it comes to critical climate action.”

“There are a range of retrograde policy changes in the pipeline, but it’s Prime Minister-elect Christopher Luxon’s horror promise to repeal New Zealand’s ban on new offshore oil exploration which is most regressive.” 

The International Energy Agency has been very clear that if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change, there cannot be more oil and gas exploration. Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director, said in 2021: ‘If governments are serious about the climate crisis, there can be no new investments in oil, gas and coal, from now – from this year.’

“Everyone deserves to have a thriving ocean without the risk of catastrophic oil spills. Everyone has the right to a stable climate and a future in which Earth can sustain life in all its diversity. Restarting oil exploration puts all that at risk,” says Norman.

“New Zealanders fought long and hard to stop oil exploration, and they’re proud of that win in a similar way that they’re proud of New Zealand’s nuclear-free status. So I’d say to the next Government, it’s time to get serious about climate change, and I’d say to the oil industry, if they think that they’re going to take Luxon’s ill-considered invitation seriously, they should think again. 

“If oil companies return to Aotearoa, they will face sustained and determined resistance. The last battle took nearly a decade as Greenpeace and thousands of others fought alongside iwi and hapū to repel oil company after oil company and secure the ban. Oil companies walked away with nothing but bills.”

Incoming Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has promised to overturn New Zealand’s ban on offshore oil and gas exploration and raid Treasury’s Climate Emergency Response Fund for tax cuts. His likely coalition partner Act has said similar, as well as pledging to get rid of New Zealand’s Zero Carbon Act and Climate Change Commission and further delay action on regulating agricultural emissions, which is New Zealand’s biggest source of climate pollution. 

“As it stands, Luxon’s likely coalition of climate chaos would pour more fuel on the climate fire, not only by overturning the oil and gas ban but also by delaying action on the country’s most significant climate polluter – the intensive dairy industry,” says Norman.

Since the ban on oil exploration was won, Greenpeace Aotearoa has made the dairy industry its primary focus as New Zealand’s biggest climate polluter.

Despite its clean green image, New Zealand is one of the world’s highest per-capita greenhouse gas emitters. The agriculture industry accounts for 50% of the country’s climate emissions, with the dairy industry alone accounting for half of that.

The country’s biggest dairy company, Fonterra, has recently been named New Zealand’s biggest climate polluter for the third consecutive year.

“Successive Governments, including Ardern’s Labour-led Government, have failed to take any meaningful action to cut climate pollution from the dairy industry, but that cannot continue. Greenpeace will continue to push hard for strong regulation of the dairy industry and to protect the oil and gas exploration ban,” says Norman.

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