Government still funding oil industry and ignoring renewables

The Green Party can reveal the Government is continuing to pour public money into subsidies for the oil and gas industry and ignore clean energy investment, on the eve of a major government-sponsored oil and gas conference starting in Auckland tomorrow.

The Government has just confirmed it spent $47,583 on the 2016 Minerals Exploration Data Pack – a collection of valuable data for overseas fossil fuel companies as a sweetener to make drilling for oil in New Zealand more attractive.

It is not yet known how much the Government has spent sponsoring the 2016 New Zealand Petroleum Conference, to be held in Auckland from 20-22 March, but previously it has spent up to $850,000 on similar conferences.

“While the Government is happy to spend millions trying to drum up business for the oil and gas industry, Ministers have confirmed in comparison they’ve done very little to attract investment in renewable energy to New Zealand,” Green Party energy and resources spokesperson Gareth Hughes said.*

“We should be developing our clean technology expertise and exporting it to the world, not subsidising foreign companies to bring last century’s technology here and drill for polluting fossil fuels.

“New Zealand could be leading the world in clean energy and profiting from exporting our expertise but instead the National Government is trying to drag us back to the oil age of last century.

“New Zealand is missing out on international opportunities, like the recent $4 billion Ethiopian geothermal contract that an Icelandic company won, because our clean tech companies aren’t getting the Government support they deserve.

“The latest oil and gas subsidy follows the $237,000 National spent wining and dining industry executives, $850,000 spent on an industry conference, $94 million of tax breaks from 2008-2013, and an overall almost 600 percent increase in government spending to assist oil and gas exploration under National.

“Oil and gas is obviously a failed strategy when globally we saw USD$100 billion more invested in clean energy than in fossil fuels last year, according to Bloomberg. We are going in the wrong direction.

“New Zealand made a commitment to reduce climate pollution last year at Paris, but the Government is doing the opposite by encouraging more fossil fuel exploration,” Mr Hughes said.

*In answer to a written Parliamentary question, Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges admitted that “MBIE has not published any publications since 1 January 2009 specifically to attract investment in renewable energy to New Zealand” and “in terms of research, science and technology, there are no current research programmes aimed specifically at attracting [renewable energy] investment to New Zealand.”

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