Last year Climate Justice Taranaki organised a protest outside the ENEX oil and gas conference at the TSB stadium. We stood in the rain and were faced with more police and security than people making a stand against the drilling. This week a similar, smaller conference that discusses attracting overseas and out of town workers, will take place here again. CJT members have decided to spend the time planting hundreds of trees and playing with our children instead of protesting those who would rather plunder our natural resources, leaving little for the future.
A year ago, it was important to make our voices heard and demonstrate that opposition to fossil fuel extraction is alive and growing in Taranaki. Thanks to a nationwide movement we have had a number of victories since then: the requirement for resource consents for drilling, an investigation into fracking by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment and a visit from Lucy Lawless and Greenpeace taking action against Shell.
There is now a call to audit the Taranaki Regional Council and there are growing numbers of land-owners and hapu who are ‘locking their gates’ to the oil companies. Some resource consents have been stalled around Cheal and Kapuni due to local opposition. Taranaki Regional Council CEO Basil Chamberlain, who on behalf of companies goes out to “earn [a] socal licence to operate”, has become under increased pressure as it becomes more evident that his council does not protect people and the environment but the bank accounts of the oil company CEOs. On the East Coast, some permits have been relinquished altogether because the companies can’t even complete a seismic survey due to local opposition.
Most importantly though, we think there is now an increased awareness between the extraction and use of fossil fuels and climate change. Climate change is not a fairy-tale that only affects people in far away countries. Climate change is a reality for all of us living on this planet and requires a global response. Almost everything we eat, wear and use now relies on dirty fossil fuels but the fuel is running out and the planet is warming. We urgently need to reduce our energy consumption and transition to renewable energy sources now.
When we see drilling rigs now on Stewart Island, the escalating pressure from Tag Oil and Apache to drill on the East Coast, the numerous new non-notified consents for fracking across Taranaki, and minimal to no environmental protection by local and national government, then we see no other way than to keep building a movement for climate justice!