Onshore oil and gas exploration ban would be 'madness' - Judith Collins

Judith Collins says ending onshore oil and gas exploration would be "madness" - given the amount of coal that's been imported into New Zealand in recent years. 

On Friday, thousands of School Strike 4 Climate activists are expected to march - calling on the Government to enact a range of demands including stopping the exploration of new fossil fuels.

In 2018, the Labour-led Government said it would no longer issue permits for offshore oil and gas exploration - but there have still been instances of companies being allowed to search for it off the Taranaki coast.  

Asked about the Government's onshore exploration stance, Labour MP Michael Wood told AM "we've got ongoing work in that area".

"Over time, we do need to phase out our use of fossil fuels if we're serious about climate change."

But Wood's comments outraged veteran Opposition MP, Judith Collins. Her National Party, of which she was the former leader, has promised to reverse the offshore ban. 

"This is madness," Collins said. "We're importing all this coal out of Indonesia because we can't actually dig it here, because of you guys and your silly rules," she told Wood.

She said the Government wasn't "helping anybody by… shipping in coal out of Indonesia rather than using New Zealand coal".

According to the latest available figures, New Zealand imported 1.85 million tonnes of coal in 2021.                

Wood admitted changes wouldn't come overnight but said policies have been implemented to bring emissions down.

"Whether it's across energy, transport, industrial product - we've got policies in place that are reducing emissions."

Michael Wood.
Michael Wood. Photo credit: AM

He accused National of opposing "every single one" of its emissions-reduction policies.

New Zealand's net emissions dropped below pre-COVID levels in 2021, according to the latest available figures from Statistics NZ. Before the pandemic, however, they'd risen every year since 2016

Scientists have said deep cuts in emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, would be needed in the coming years to meet targets aimed at limiting global temperature rises and preventing further impacts from climate change.