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New climate movement launches week of action in Wellington

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News from XR
Extinction Rebellion’s (XR) international week of action kicked off in Aotearoa last night, when XR Wellington invited speakers from some of our country’s major environmental groups and organisations to “a Gathering of Rebels (for life)” at Rutherford House on the Pipitea Victoria University Campus. Around 80 people attended – despite the fact that #winterhascome.

The evening began with an acknowledgement of the shocking events in Christchurch a month ago, and a minute of silence out of respect for the victims and their families. We were also reminded that these events are linked in numerous ways to the climate and ecological disasters we face.

Speakers from 350, Greenpeace, School Strikes 4 Climate, the Cycling Action Network, Coal Action Network Aotearoa, and Forest & Bird presented the why (motivations), how (process) and what (impact) of their respective organisations.

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Our most outstanding climate change scientist and communicator, Professor James Renwick, shared reflections of his work and experiences.

Extinction Rebellion Wellington’s spokesperson Dr Sea Rotmann says: “We wanted to bring our allies in this fight for life together, and to acknowledge the mahi and mana of their work which has been going on so much longer than Extinction Rebellion’s. We also were hoping to tease out how and where XRNZ can add value, and remove or overcome any obstacles to our supporting each other in this most urgent of fights.”

All the groups shared a vision of a just transition to a fossil-fuel free world which worked in harmony with nature, and a deep concern about the urgency of our climate and ecological crises. Individual speakers had followed different paths to their current work, but all were impassioned about the need for radical, rapid change.

As Prof Renwick so poignantly commented: “If we had taken action in the 80s, when we knew how big this problem was becoming, we wouldn’t have had to meet here tonight.”

The speakers shared stories of success, recent and not so recent – from Forest & Bird supporting the “Save Manapouri” campaign, to the School Strikes 4 Climate which saw 20,000 school children and their whānau march a month ago, from CANA campaigning to keep the lignite coal in the ground in Southland to Greenpeace promoting the ban on new fossil fuel exploration. And we shared stories of failure too, like that OMV is now coming to NZ to continue oil exploration and production, and Fonterra’s continuing use of coal for milk powder production.

Each group had significant current campaigns. Greenpeace will be trying to stop the resumption of oil drilling off the South Island, Schools Strike for Climate will set up recurring strikes and extend their actions, 350 is working on New Zealand banks to divest from fossil fuels and Forest and Bird continues to work on a range of fronts to halt the largest extinction event currently happening in the world, right here in Aotearoa.

We were reminded of the exhilaration felt by many during the School Strikes 4 Climate, and that we needed to find the joy in climate action and in working together.

Dr Rotmann says: “We found that we shared such a strong vision of our necessary future, but also a deep concern that we might not achieve it, as climate change and ecological degradation accelerate to the point of no return. We all agreed that we needed to continue to talk, share, and support each other in our ongoing work and campaigns”.

“Today, Extinction Rebellion Wellington is supporting a group of Waiheke cyclists presenting a climate declaration at Parliament. We also will be undertaking a series of actions, such as a public talk by Dr Mike Joy and protest against intensive agriculture and our severe freshwater degradation, on Wednesday at 3pm at Parliament. The week of action will culminate in a human wave visualising the rising tides along the CBD waterfront on Saturday afternoon. And this is just the beginning for our movement”.

“Politicians, corporations, and individuals all need to step up, face, and act on this crisis that no one is immune from.”

Extinction Rebellion Te Whanganui-a-Tara demands that our Government:
1. Tells the truth about the climate and ecological crisis
2. Takes the necessary steps (declaring a state of emergency and reducing
greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025) to address it, and
3. Creates Participatory Democracy to oversee the process.

2 comments:

  1. Tim Jones, 16. April 2019, 14:16

    I was impressed with the turnout on a Monday night, and also with how much the groups represented had in common – it’s clear from that meeting that there is momentum building to hold both the Government and Councils to account if they fail to take the urgent action needed on climate change, or to come clean about the risks we face.

     
  2. Dr Sea Rotmann, 16. April 2019, 15:54

    Organising and facilitating this event – and this extremely high caliber of speakers! – I was a little worried going into it: They all have been doing this for so long, and weren’t always in agreement how things should be done. Extinction Rebellion are totally the new, crazy kids on the block and it was important to us to not tread on anyone’s toes or duplicate or even hinder other efforts. But instead, all these amazing people and groups embraced our mana, what we have managed to achieve already in such a short time, and promised to help, support and promote our actions. We are all in full, 100% agreement on the vision of the future world we would like to see, how far we are removed from this vision (right now it’s dystopia, not utopia), and what we all need to do to get there. I feel so much better about our collective movement to save what we love most – this glorious planet we call our home.