The government of New Zealand has just kicked off the country’s transition to a “carbon-neutral future” by banning all future off-shore oil exploration.

Since all of the country’s currently existing exploration permits in the Taranaki region will be allowed to finish the terms of their contracts, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says that she hopes that this will allow sufficient time for communities, businesses, and work forces to adjust so that “jobs that are there today will remain tomorrow”.

“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,” said Ardern at a press conference in Wellington.

“I have seen that happen once in the 1980s and I don’t want to see that again.”

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The announcement comes as a welcomed follow-up to a Greenpeace petition of 50,000 signatures that was submitted to Ardern last month. The environmental organization called the ban “a huge win for our climate and people power”.

“The tide has turned irreversibly against big oil in New Zealand,” said the Greenpeace New Zealand executive director, Russel Norman, according to The Guardian.

“Today’s announcement is significant internationally too. By ending new oil and gas exploration in our waters, the fourth-largest exclusive economic zone on the planet is out of bounds for new fossil fuel exploitation. New Zealand has stood up to one of the most powerful industries in the world.

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“Bold global leadership on the greatest challenge of our time has never been more urgent and Ardern has stepped up to that climate challenge.”

The New Zealand government said last week that they will begin “laying the groundwork” for lower-carbon energy alternatives by investing $20 million in initiatives and projects for the future of Taranaki.

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