2. National not so Blue-Green on gas, Zero Carbon

National's resources spokesperson Jonathan Young warned of fallout from the Govenrment's ban on further offshore exploration for gas and oil. Photo: Lynn Grieveson

A looming shortage for domestic users of natural gas, and a defence of the dairy industry's efforts to mitigate emissions featured in the National Party's annual conference presentation on the environment and energy.

Resources spokesman Jonathan Young claimed the Government's move to stop further offshore exploration for gas and oil would start having an effect as early as 2020.

"The diminishing reserve starts to hit us in January 2020. Not this summer but the next," he said, prompting a colleague to interject "that's election year isn't it?"

Using a household example, Young went on: "Click, click, click. The barbecue will be fired up. Will it ignite? There's a diminishing supply for demand that's there at the moment and we cannot meet demand, so the price will go up."

He said similar shortages in Australia had seen price increases of 400-500 percent for gas.

Using industries, he said "the chances are we do not have enough gas supply for the NZ Refining Company, Fonterra, Tasman Pulp and Paper, industries right throughout New Zealand".

National had previously announced it would reverse the ban if re-elected.

Young said his party did not believe a "transition" into a low carbon environment was possible without, first, infrastructure investment to ensure domestic gas supplies were not cut, leading to a move to coal power as an alternative.

National would support the oil and gas industry because it believed it could actually contribute to reducing world emissions, its exports possibly helping other countries rely less on coal, for example.

"It's about time we were practical and pragmatic and not ideological like the current government."

Conditional support

The climate change spokesman, Todd Muller, said National's support for a Climate Commission had three conditions: that it be bipartisan, rely on the best science or evidence and was conscious of the experience of "competitor countries".

"Unlike James Shaw ]we believe] this is a journey we need to walk down, but we do not run it when the rest of the world walks it. To me, that's economic vandalism."

Muller said half New Zealand's emissions came from agriculture but the country already led in seeking ways to reduce them. "Our dairy industry is the best in the world and sheep and beef is close behind. We need to amplify the competitive strength, not tax it into oblivion."

'We won't be first, fast and famous'

National would address its position on the Zero Carbon Act over the next few weeks and would take a principled view on agriculture. "We do not want to be overwhelmed by wanting to be first, fast and famous at the United Nations."

Muller said doing nothing was not an option, the climate was warming and the international community needed "to mitigate that in the greatest way possible, as a globe, in the context of 190 countries."

National believed it vital that this country's response remained proportional to its emissions which were tiny in the global totals. "It is not an excuse to do nothing but it is not an excuse to throw the economy under a bus."

The environment spokesman, Scott Simpson, told the conference National's Blue Greens group celebrated its 20th anniversary at the weekend.

He pointed delegates to the conference programme back cover which listed its four values on the back cover - the last of which was environmental sustainability. "That probably was not there 20 years ago."