Environmentalists write open letter to Jacinda Ardern to act on climate change

  • 09/03/2018

An open letter has been launched to try to convince the Prime Minister to end oil and gas exploration.

Scientists, health professionals and unions are among those who want the Government to take action on climate change.

The signatories on the Greenpeace-led letter include the Public Service Association, the New Zealand Medical Association, Unite Union, the Public Health Association and Forest and Bird.

Other well-known New Zealanders including musician Tiki Taane, actors Lucy Lawless and Robyn Malcolm, and scientists Professor James Renwick and Dr Jim Salinger have also signed the letter.

Victoria University's Mr Renwick says we can't afford to muck around.

"The total amount of carbon dioxide we can put in the atmosphere will be up there within seven or eight years.

"If we don't start reducing emissions immediately, we're going to blow through those Paris targets within 10 years or 20 years or so.

"It really is an urgent problem and I'm not entirely sure that police makers really get that.

"So I think that the more we can talk about this, the better."

The letter, which is still open to more signatures, will be formally handed to Jacinda Ardern in a few weeks.

The Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ) said it opposes a ban, as it would be a "lose-lose for New Zealand and the global climate".

CEO Cameron Madgwick said banning exploration in New Zealand would mean production would shift overseas.

"This would be a worse overall outcome for the environment given that natural gas has half the emissions of coal, and oil produced in New Zealand has a relatively lower emissions footprint than oil produced oversea."

He said New Zealand would miss out on economic benefits, and if no new discoveries or developments are found to replace natural gas then fuel would likely have be imported overseas.

"We need to have a serious discussion on how to lower our net emissions while meeting a growing demand for energy in an economically and environmentally rational way. Turning off half of our energy supply is just not a realistic solution."