What will a carbon-neutral future cost regional economies?

The Government says a carbon-neutral future represents inevitable progress, but National calls it an economic disaster.

Newshub Nation went to the regions to investigate how communities who depend on fossil fuels can be part of a carbon-neutral economy.

National MP Jonathan Young says the Government's ban on new gas and oil permits will have a drastic effect.

"You're looking at the devastation of a regional economy that we haven't seen in New Zealand ever."

The oil refinery at Marsden Point - which makes up 10 percent of Whangarei's GDP- is planning for the future, refurbishing equipment that could be used to produce carbon-neutral biofuels.

Chief executive Sjoerd Post says he is confident the Marsden Point refinery will adapt to a green economy but warns outright bans on fuel extraction may end up being more costly to the environment.

"If you close us down, cars will still need to drive on New Zealand's roads using petrol and diesel; planes will still need to fly using jet fuel," he says.

"So you're going to import that, and that may well be more carbon intensive."

The stakes are higher in Taranaki, where oil and gas employs 4000 people and a further 3000 are in supporting industries.

New Plymouth Mayor Neil Holdom describes the Government's ban as a "kick in the guts".

"It came as a shock to Taranaki, and really the concern is that we've got this policy without any real detailed plan."

National leader Simon Bridges says Labour has rushed into this decision without considering the consequences.

"This is [a decision] affecting thousands of jobs, many thousands of people's lives, where they should have taken some time."

But Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says National needs to get with the programme.

"This trend was already happening and I just think it's short-term exploitative politics on the part of National."

He says the change was inevitable and is irreversible.

"If you think that Simon Bridges and a future National Government are ever going to unwind what we're doing, then think again."

Newshub Nation.

Watch Newshub Nation 9:30am Saturday/10am Sunday on TV3, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Newshub Nation is supported by NZ On Air.