Wellington Scoop

Protestors stage “turning point” rally outside oil and gas conference

News from 350 Aotearoa
350 Aotearoa yesterday the Opening Ceremony of the Rally for Climate Justice that gathered a diverse group of people united against new oil and gas in Aotearoa. The group comprising tangata whenua, doctors, church leaders, grandparents, students, and many more, constructed a giant sunflower to represent the communities and groups all across New Zealand who are standing against oil and gas. The group will join the blockade of the oil conference today.

“We are at a turning point in history – we’ve seen our hottest summer on record, sea level rise accelerating, cyclones pounding; with climate change bearing down we need to steer New Zealand away from any new fossil fuel projects immediately,” said Niamh O’Flynn, executive director of 350 Aotearoa.

“People from all walks of life, all across Aotearoa are demanding an end to new oil and gas. It’s time for our government take the bold stance on climate change that they were elected for and end oil, so we can build our fossil free future.

Sunflowers are often used globally as a symbol the climate movement, as it represents both resistance to oil and gas expansion, and the vision for a brighter future, powered by the sun and wind.

The event was the opening ceremony for The Rally for Climate Justice, which has been initiated by Oil Free Wellington.

Press Release – Rally for Climate Justice
People from across Aotearoa are rallying for climate justice and will nonviolently blockade the Oil Summit being held at the TSB Arena in Wellington on March 27th.

Spokesperson Teanau Tuiono says: “We need to take bold, collective action now to prevent catastrophic climate change. We stand in solidarity with those standing up to the fossil fuel industry – and with those already experiencing the effects of a warming world.

“The science is really clear, to prevent catastrophic climate change we cannot burn all the fossil fuels which we’ve already found, let alone explore for more.

“The oil and gas industry is a dying relic. The government needs to stop handing out exploration permits, stop all existing exploration and drilling, and provide for a just transition for workers in the industry.

“Our prime minister has indicated she takes climate change seriously. That’s great – but we need her to back up the words with actions. Ending block offers would be a first step – but we need much more.”

On Monday, 350.org and other groups created a sunflower outside the Oil Summit to symbolise all the groups resisting and determined to end the industry and create a sustainable and fair world.

“The solutions to climate change must include and benefit the people most affected by it – Indigenous Peoples, people of colour and those struggling on low incomes. Those most affected by climate change are the least responsible for it,” says Teanau.

“We are thrilled to be joined by a broad range of groups who’ve come from all over Aotearoa to protest the expansion of oil and gas in Aotearoa: Climate Justice Taranaki, Te Ara Whatu, Pacific Panthers, 350 Aotearoa, Auckland Peace Action, Peace Action Wellington, People Against Prisons Aotearoa, Oil Free Otago, Berrigan House, Coal Action Network Aotearoa, It’s Our Future Manawatu, Unite Union, Our Climate Declaration, Frack Free, Oil Free Otautahi, and Unions Wellington.

“We invite everyone in Aotearoa to come down and join us to stand up for climate justice. There will never be a better time to take action than now. You can be part of making a better future for all of us.”

The Rally for Climate Justice is calling for the following:

1: To the government: Commit to no new permits, and stop all drilling and prospecting for oil and gas as part of a just transition for workers and communities.

2: To the oil and gas industries: Stop drilling and prospecting; clean up the damage you have caused and make amends to the communities you’ve harmed.

3: To the people: Join with us to stand up for climate justice – demand that global solutions to climate change centre on and support those who bear the brunt of it, rather than perpetuating existing injustices.