31 Aug 2011

Greens denounce plan to increase oil drilling

5:34 am on 31 August 2011

The Green Party has denounced plans by the Government to encourage greater oil and gas exploration off New Zealand's coast.

The goal is included in the New Zealand Energy Strategy 2011-2021 released on Tuesday, which also re-affirms the Government's commitment to increase the use of renewable sources to generate electricity.

The strategy says New Zealand could become a net exporter of oil by 2030.

The Green Party's energy spokesperson, Kennedy Graham, says that approach contradicts the strategy's goal of increasing the use of renewable energy to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

"It's in direct contradiction to the very first thing they say in the forward, which is that one of the two main challenges of their strategy is a decent response to climate change.

"And you are not going to achieve that if you become a net exporter of oil to the rest of the world 20 years from now."

Dr Graham says by 2030 New Zealand's economy should be much less reliant on fossil fuels.

He is also concerned about the safety and environmental risks of the Government's plan to expand oil and gas exploration.

However, acting Energy Minister Hekia Parata is confident plans are in place to ensure that safety and environmental matters are addressed.

The Labour Party says it supports the energy strategy as long as stringent environmental safeguards are put in place to protect against oil spills.