Climate change is happening. Summers are getting hotter and drier, winters are getting shorter, and storms are getting more destructive. Our economy is already starting to be affected by more droughts, more roads being washed away, and more crops being damaged.
Everyone knows that climate change is a real threat and one that we need to act on. I agree with my colleague, Rodney MP Mark Mitchell (HM May 2) that we should be “continuing to work hard to combat climate change”. But the last National Government had nine years to take action and did nothing.
The world is moving away from fossil fuels and we have a great opportunity to lead on addressing climate change. As Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: “this is our nuclear-free moment”. For that reason, this Government has committed to becoming a net zero emission economy by 2050.
It can’t be done overnight of course. Much of our energy currently comes from fossil fuels, and many Kiwi jobs depend on them. I agree with the Prime Minister that we can’t afford to repeat the mistakes of the 1980s, when rapid economic transformation led to enormous social damage. But we do need to begin our energy transition if we are to make a difference in time.
We need a fair, just transition to a clean energy future.
That’s why the government has announced we are ending new offshore oil and gas exploration in New Zealand. This doesn’t affect existing exploration permits or existing wells, nor will it affect the jobs of the approximately 4500 workers in the industry. But it is an important part of our move away from fossil fuels.
Acting now on climate change is estimated to save the country $30 billion in the future. What’s good for the environment is ultimately good for the economy. The big international oil and energy companies know this. That’s why they’re investing billions into clean and renewable energy.
The interests of working people are always top of mind for this Government. We’ll make sure new job opportunities are created as we move away from fossil fuels. The Government has already announced $20m in funding for Taranaki through the Provincial Growth Fund to create new jobs and diversify its economy. We’ll work with Taranaki to help transition to new industries and opportunities over the next thirty years.
The Government has chosen a sensible path that gets the balance right. We’re protecting current workers from a sudden change, we’re protecting the energy supplies New Zealanders need, and we’re addressing climate change to protect future generations from a rising tide.
That’s how we’re tackling this issue, and I’m proud to be a part of it.