New Zealand bans offshore drilling to combat climate change

New Zealand bans offshore drilling to combat climate change

New Zealand will ban offshore drilling and gas exploration off its coast as part of its effort to fight climate change, the country’s government announced Thursday.

New Zealand officials will stop issuing new permits for drilling and exploration but will allow efforts that are currently underway to continue, according to The New York Times. Those existing permits will expire by 2030.

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that decision was made as part of the country's effort to combat climate change by reducing carbon emissions.

“When it comes to climate change, our plan is clear,” Ardern said, the newspaper reported. “We are committed to the goal of becoming a net zero emissions economy by 2050.”

She added that she wanted the country’s electricity system to fully rely on renewable energy sources by 2035.

The 22 current offshore permits will be allowed to continue until their expiration dates. However, if companies find oil and gas reserves in areas covered by their permits, they could be allowed to drill for decades, according to the Times.

Energy advocates quickly condemned the announcement, arguing that it would cost jobs and could lead to higher oil prices due to an increase in imported resources.

The government argued that “no current jobs” would be lost as a result of the change.

The announcement comes as the Trump administration moves to expand offshore drilling in the U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeInterior fast tracks study of drilling's Arctic impact: report Zinke left some details off public calendar: report House completes first half of 2019 spending bills MORE announced earlier this year that new areas off the coast of the U.S. would be open to drilling.

However, governors and other officials have largely opposed the plan. Zinke granted an exemption to Florida from the plan after discussing it with Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R).

-Updated 1:08 p.m.