New Zealand was named Fossil of the Day for the first time at COP28 for its plans to restart offshore oil and gas exploration.
Making the announcement at the World Climate Summit, climate change activists said there was “no U-turn on the path to a healthy planet”.
The infamous award is aimed at shaming countries that stand in the way of progress at a time when the world’s attention is focused on climate change at the annual United Nations conference.
New Climate Minister Simon Watts, who is heading to the summit later this week, previously said: thing He did not expect the government’s new stance on oil and gas to “cause any problems”. But it caught the attention of the Climate Action Network, an activist group that issues the Fossil of the Day award.
New Zealand became the first country to win this dubious honor at this year’s event.
Forest & Bird’s Bianca Ranson nominated her home country.
She said the government’s decision was a “catastrophic about-face that undermines years of struggle by iwi, local communities and non-governmental organizations, and puts New Zealand and our Pacific neighbors at risk”.
Energy experts have concluded that the world has already identified enough coal, oil and gas to provide energy during the transition to clean fuels. Countries need to rapidly reduce fossil fuel use by 2030 to limit global warming to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius, climate and energy scientists have warned.
WWF NZ chief executive Kayla Kingdon-Bebb said the new government was attracting international attention “for all the wrong reasons”.
Labor leader Chris Hipkins said the award was “embarrassing”. New oil and gas is “terrible news for the planet,” he said.
Mr Watts said in a statement that the Labor-led government had also won the award at the previous meeting. “We are focused on working together with international partners at COP28 to achieve climate goals and develop the policy infrastructure.”
In a previous interview, Watts said gas is needed as a transition fuel to back up the power grid. He said solid fuels are preferable to importing and burning coal because they emit more greenhouse gases when producing the same amount of energy.
New Zealand has had to import record amounts of coal in recent years. But fossil gas was also partly to blame. Around the same time that hydro-lake water levels declined in 2021, major gas fields experienced an “unexpected and unexplained decline in production.”
World leaders in Vanuatu and Palau have criticized calls to reissue permits for offshore oil and gas exploration.
In 2018, the Labor-led government banned this type of exploration. However, it continued to issue permits allowing onshore exploration in Taranaki.
National and ACT campaigned for the offshore ban to be repealed, as did NZ First, which did not enthusiastically support the policy as part of its coalition with Labor.
Labour’s climate change spokeswoman Megan Woods said a “climate rollback” could reposition New Zealand on the world stage.
The new government needs to outline how it will protect the country’s reputation, she added.
Climate and environmental activists said the government deserved the prestigious award.
Oxfam’s Nick Henry hoped the quote could serve as a “wake-up call”. “New Zealand risks becoming a pariah in the Pacific,” said Greenpeace’s Amanda Larsson.
Previous summits have criticized New Zealand for failing to raise ambition under John Key’s leadership, and under Jacinda Ardern for the “loss and damage” being experienced by vulnerable communities. won the Today’s Fossil Award for supporting a plan to spend two years discussing a fund to cover .