New Zealand bans all new offshore oil exploration

The government said it will not revoke any existing exploration contracts

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New Zealand has banned all new offshore oil and gas exploration.

The move, which intends to slash pollution and avoid environmental damage from fossil fuel production, comes following seven years of public protests aiming to stop drilling.

The new restriction takes more than four million square kilometres of seabed off limits for new projects.

The New Zealand government will continue to offer the onshore region of Taranaki for exploration and has said it will not revoke any existing exploration contracts.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her government “has a plan to transition towards a carbon-neutral future, one that looks 30 years in advance”.

She added: “Transitions have to start somewhere and unless we make decisions today that will essentially take effect in 30 or more years’ time, we run the risk of acting too late and causing abrupt shocks to communities and our country.”

The US announced plans to open up nearly the entirety of its coast for oil and gas drilling earlier this year.