The search for fossil fuels must come to an end

Following a High Court decision yesterday the Green Party is calling on the Government to amend the Crown Minerals Act to end fossil fuel extraction and to require Ministers to consider climate change when making decisions about whether to grant a permit to prospect, explore or mine other Crown minerals. 

“To address the climate crisis we have to keep fossil fuels in the ground, where they belong. It makes no sense to keep looking for more, and yet Ministers’ hands are currently tied. The law urgently needs to change,” says the Green Party’s spokesperson for energy and resources, Julie Anne Genter. 

On Wednesday, the High Court found Energy Minister Megan Woods made a lawful decision when granting permits allowing companies to search for new fossil fuels in Taranaki. The judge ruled that “climate change considerations were not relevant to the decisions” because the decisions were made under the Crown Minerals Act, which does not require Ministers to consider climate change. 

“As part of the Government, the Greens have taken more action on climate change in the last four years than the previous three decades of governments combined. We cannot have a situation where the law leaves other Ministers little option but to approve the search for more fossil fuels. 

“The issue here isn’t so much the outcome of this particular High Court case – the judge had to make a narrow decision based on the current law – it’s the fact that the legislation doesn’t currently lend enough weight to climate change. This needs to change so we can have a just transition away from fossil fuels. 

“The Government started a review of the Crown Minerals Act in 2019 but here we are, three years later, with mining companies continuing to search for new fossil fuels. It doesn’t make any sense. The Green Party is calling on the Government to dust off its review and get on with bringing the Crown Minerals Act into the 21st century. 

“We also call on the Government to back Eugenie Sage’s member’s bill - which was recently  pulled from the biscuit tin ballot. It would, if passed, ban coal mining anywhere in New Zealand, and any type of mining activity on conservation lands and water. This is a promise Labour made in 2017 in the Speech from the Throne and it’s time they made good on it,” says Julie Anne Genter. 

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