7 Dec 2018

Taranaki to move away from emissions-based economy

7:01 pm on 7 December 2018

Taranaki risks being left behind in the transition to a low-carbon future unless it is given the opportunity to change as the world does, the head of a group designed to help the region transform its economy says.

Mount Taranaki

A plan to transform Taranaki's economy has been launched. Photo: PHOTO NZ

Development agency Venture Taranaki has today launched Taranaki 2050 - a roadmap to help the region move away from an emissions-based economy.

General manager for transitional economy Justine Gilliland said despite the challenges, Taranaki had an opportunity to stay ahead of the curve.

"To ensure we can preserve all that's great about our region, and maintain the economic prosperity for future generations, we need to build a road map that will enable sustainable and resilient growth for our entire region," she said.

"The economic and environmental playing fields are changing, and we need to make sure Taranaki is in a strong position."

Taranaki had to have a plan, Ms Gilliland said.

"As the world moves from its current level of carbon-dependence to a lower-carbon future, the lives of those living in areas and economies that rely on emission-producing activities are at risk of getting left behind."

A fair transition for the region would take a collaborative approach.

"A 'just transition' is an approach that sees a partnership between government, unions, iwi and business to make sure the people, businesses, communities, and regions who are most affected by a transition are given opportunities to change as the world does."

The roadmap development is being facilitated by Venture Taranaki, in partnership with the Just Transitions Unit within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. It will build on the work done over the last 18 months to develop Tapuae Roa, the Taranaki Regional Economic Development Strategy.

"The roadmap needs to focus on looking out for our people both today and into the future, and will build a collaborative vision of how Taranaki will look in 2050," Ms Gilliand said.

It would focus on Taranaki's strengths, such as energy and engineering, food and agriculture, and look for new areas where the region had the potential to lead New Zealand.

In April, the government sent shockwaves through the Taranaki economy when it announced it would no longer offer offshore oil and gas exploration permits and review the issuing of on-shore permits in three years' time.

New Plymouth mayor Neil Holdom described the move as a "kick in the guts" for Taranaki.

Earlier in April the government softened the blow somewhat with the announcement of a $20 million injection into the region via the Provincial Growth Fund.

More than $13m of that money was for the creation of a trek traversing Egmont National Park and another $5m was earmarked for the earthquake strengthening and redevelopment of the Taranaki Cathedral.