“The Government’s marketing-led environmentalism has been mugged by scientific reality”, says ACT’s Climate Change spokesperson Simon Court.

“The result of the ban on exploration for natural gas will be that New Zealanders import more coal.

Coal imports were up 41 percent in the December 2020 quarter as compared with the same time 12 months earlier. New Zealand imported more coal in 2020 than in 2017 and 2018 combined.

“This was predictable, and predicted, but the Government didn’t listen.

“The environmental case for allowing natural gas exploration is now overwhelming – our trading partners have reduced emissions by using natural gas and turning off old coal-fired power stations and industrial heating.

“But no one is interested in finding new gas reserves here due to the Government’s ban on new exploration.

“New Zealand Oil and Gas has relinquished its Toroa and Clipper permits – the last deep sea oil and gas exploration permits off the coast of the South Island.

“That decision follows Genesis bringing a 240 megawatt coal-fired unit out of storage at Huntly to provide backup electricity generation.

“The independent Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has pointed out that the ban on offshore gas exploration will impose massive costs on the economy but is unlikely to reduce domestic emissions.

“There is no environmental benefit to banning gas exploration if Indonesian coal will be imported instead.

“The Prime Minister needs to show that her ‘nuclear-free moment’ wasn’t just a line in a speech by reversing the ban on exploration for natural gas so New Zealand can begin to make meaningful long-term reductions in our emissions.”