Shane Jones says Government needs to ensure 'we don't abandon gas, coal' amid climate change 'hysteria'

The stalemate over a climate agreement is continuing at the COP28 conference in Dubai, with oil-rich nations refusing to agree to phase out fossil fuels.   

But it's not just oil rich nations pushing back. Here in New Zealand the Government is doubling down on scrapping targets, with the new Resources Minister Shane Jones calling climate concerns "hysteria."  

Delays are dominating in Dubai, with some needing coffee to keep climate talks awake and alive, as frustrations grow.   

"Well, I'm extremely concerned. The text that we have is not where it needs to be," said Danish Minister for Climate & Energy Dan Jorgensen.   

The text is in a tug-o-war between nations. Oil-rich Saudi Arabia is not happy with wording around phasing out fossil fuels.    

China is refusing to comment too, and as for the Brits, its minister has packed up and flown home.   

But at home in New Zealand, the new Government has some new language.  

"Hysteria surrounding climate change," said the Resources Minister on Tuesday.  

Asked on Wednesday what he meant by that, Jones said, "we need to ensure, in the context of security and risk management in our energy system, that we don't abandon gas and, if necessary, coal".  

But that's exactly what's being discussed at COP - and it's in the Paris Agreement.  

The Paris Agreement says that by 2030, we'll reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to 50 percent below gross 2005 levels, and by 2050, achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions.   

To do that, there was an aspirational goal of 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035 which last year was brought forward to 2030.   

"That's not a target we support," said Energy Minister Simeon Brown.   

Labour's Megan Woods, the previous Energy Minister, said the "the time is over for them saying just what they're not going to do".  

There's more on that list of what the new Government won't do.  

It includes the Clean Car Discount and the New Zealand Battery Storage Scheme, known as Lake Onslow. 

There's the Carbon Neutral Govt Programme to decarbonise the public sector and the Government Investment in Decarbonising Industry Fund which funds the private sector to decarbonise - which both have a question mark hanging over them.   

Brown said the Government still had a "number of policies" to tackle climate change.   

"The emissions trading scheme is going to play a significant role."  

Jones said the Government was "balancing climate change shrillness and hysteria with rational economic decision-making".   

Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick doesn't think so, with an extraordinary interjection to the Prime Minister during Question Time, when he said the Government was "not weakening our actions on climate change".  

She replied: "Yes you are, that's a demonstrable lie".  

Tensions were high in Parliament just as they are in Dubai.