This policy is self-righteous nimbyism, environmentally pointless, economically costly and politically counter-productive to the Government’s own agenda on climate change.
What matters for the climate is how much fossil carbon is consumed, not where it is produced.
This is critical. The Government’s ban will increase carbon emissions, not reduce them.
The opportunity cost of this ban — the jobs, royalties and export revenues forgone — is unknown and unlikely ever to be known given the chilling effect it will have on exploration of the existing permit areas.
What we do know is that New Zealand struggles to earn its living as a trading nation. Right now we are enjoying the best terms of trade on record, the most favourable mix of export and import prices ever.
But we still run a $3 billion trade deficit, underpinned by a net $4.5b deficit in petroleum and petroleum products. It contributes to an overall external deficit of $7.7b in 2017, which has to be financed by running up debt, or selling off assets, to the rest of the world.
So we will import even more from overseas, increasing the trade deficit.