Energy Minister dispels talk of a halt to coal permits in NZ

Energy Minister Dr Megan Woods says there are no plans to halt exploration for coal in New Zealand, despite the govenrment's recent move to halt new oil exploration permits.

Dr Woods said while it is possible it will happen eventually, there is currently no work taking place to make it happen. Source: Q+A

Government ministers announced the halt to new oil exploration permits as a starting point for a 30-year transition away from fossil fuels in pursuit of a net zero emissions economy by 2050.

No existing exploration or production rights are affected by the decision, but no new offshore exploration permits will be issued, with only onshore exploration permits in the Taranaki region to be issued, and a review to be done of onshore exploration in three years' time.

Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods explained the decision on TVNZ1’s Breakfast today. Source: Breakfast

Some have speculated that a ban on coal exploration and mining permits could be next - New Zealand produced about 2.8 million tonnes of coal in 2016 and there are 25 mines across the country.

Dr Woods, speaking this morning to TVNZ 1's Q+A programme, said while a halt to coal permits could possibly happen in the future, there are currently no plans to make that happen or work being undertaken on it.

"We have made no announcements about ending coal," she said.

Dr Woods did, however, point to recent comments by Fonterra - one of New Zealand's biggest users of coal - saying they hope to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

She said the halt to oil permits "is also about leadership".

"This is about a government having the courage to do the right thing - lift its eyes beyond the three-year political cycle and make those long-term plans for the future."