New Zealand has been named the much-loathed "Fossil of The Day" at the COP28 climate change conference in Dubai. Advocacy group the Climate Action Network (CAN) gave New Zealand the dubious award for the new government's decision to overturn a ban on offshore oil and gas exploration. New Zealand's new government is a coalition of three parties from the right which all campaigned on ending the ban put in place by Jacinda Ardern's Labour-led government in 2018 CAN spokesman Muhammed Saidykhan said "New Zealand had been saying all the right things". "But with a new government in the driver's seat, they seem to have swerved off course and are undermining the indigenous people-led struggle by announcing plans to reopen Aotearoa waters to oil and gas exploration," he said. "Aotearoa New Zealand ... should not ignore the calls from those at immediate risk of sea level rise to line the pockets of fossil fuel companies. "Expect criticism - we have no time to waste in securing a liveable future." NZ has been criticised from other quarters for the move, with Germany's climate ambassador and Palau's president also condemning the "tragic" switch. "New Zealand as a Pacific island and a member of the (Pacific Islands) Forum should take a leadership role and should be active in doing all they can to transition away from fossil fuels," Surangel Whipps Jr told Radio NZ. "That's what they should be working on." Labour leader Chris Hipkins said National's policy switch was "an embarrassment for New Zealand and terrible news for the planet". Prime Minister Chris Luxon defended the move, saying gas was a "transitional energy source" on the road to renewable energy, and better than NZ's current practice of importing coal from Indonesia. Mr Luxon's government plans to double renewable energy generation by 2050. On Monday, he signed NZ up to a COP28 pledge signed by more than 100 countries to triple renewable energy capacity by the end of the decade. Climate Minister Simon Watts will represent NZ at COP28 alongside former climate minister James Shaw, the Greens co-leader, with the new government honouring a long-running convention to send leaders from both sides of politics to the conference. It is not the first time NZ has been dishonoured as "Fossil of The Day" at COP talks. Last year, Jacinda Ardern's Labour government received the gong for "seeking to delay any agreement to establish a loss and damage finance facility". In 2021, it was named runner-up for equivocating on upping its climate pledges, or Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), and arguing against caps on climate offsetting.