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The Limits of the Offshore Oil Exploration Ban and Agricultural Sector Deal to Reduce Emissions in New Zealand

Magnus C. Abraham-Dukuma, Francis N. Okpaleke, Qaraman Mohammed Hasan, Michael O. Dioha


Climate change mitigation is a common topical issue in contemporary times at global, regional and country-specific levels. It requires the formulation and implementation of national regulatory and policy regimes in different countries. At a country-specific level, this article provides a critique of New Zealand’s climate policy, focusing on its frameworks for addressing emissions from the energy and agricultural sectors. The analysis is anchored on identified issues in two key areas – the restriction of offshore petroleum production and the treatment of agricultural sector emissions. For the energy sector, we argue that the ban on new offshore oil exploration permits does not represent an optimal policy measure if onshore petroleum activities can potentially increase emissions in the country. This is, at best, a form of carbon leakage. The likelihood of shifting offshore operations to other jurisdictions with weaker regulatory regimes can also lead to carbon leakage. For agricultural sector emissions, the changes to the country’s emissions trading scheme would start pricing agricultural sector emissions, which had been hitherto exempted. This addition is however weak, as the law will likely cover only 5% of agricultural emissions, leaving 95% uncovered. This seems to undercut the ultimate objective of net-zero emissions reduction. Our analysis suggests the need to entrench a well-considered stringent regulatory regime that incentivises large-scale emissions reduction, especially in the highest emitting sectors of the New Zealand economy – agriculture and energy.

Magnus C Abraham-Dukuma, Centre for Environmental, Resources and Energy Law (CEREL), Te Piringa – Faculty of Law, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Corresponding Author: <>. Francis N Okpaleke, Department of Politics and Public Policy, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Qaraman Mohammed Hasan, Centre for Environmental, Resources and Energy Law (CEREL), Te Piringa – Faculty of Law, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand; The University of Raparin, Kurdistan Region, Iraq. Michael O Dioha, Department of Energy & Environment, TERI School of Advanced Studies, 10 Institutional Area, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi, India. Acknowledgemnt: We thank Professor Barry Barton, Dr. Joanna Depledge and the anonymous reviewers for their useful comments on earlier drafts, which greatly contributed to the improvement of the manuscript.


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