“If the government won’t rise up for climate justice, we will” says Emily Bailey from Climate Justice Taranaki, which is gathering with a coalition of social justice and environmental groups from across Aotearoa to protest in Taranaki during the COP26 international climate negotiations in November.
“We are sick of waiting for the government to take the urgent action needed to cut greenhouse gas emissions and actually transition the country off fossil fuels. Thursday’s announcement that the Emissions Reduction Plan will be delayed for five months just emphasises the need for people to push back against business as usual and demand real change, not hypothetical or harmful techno-fixes and a disastrous carbon trading and offset system,” said Bailey.
The coalition invites people to meet in South Taranaki from the 3rd to 7th of November for an event called ‘Rise Up for Climate Justice’. The aim is to grow the climate justice movement, deepen the conversation around real transition off fossil fuels and focus on just solutions, and to take non-violent direct action against major climate polluters.
The event will see two days of protest action. “The 5th of November is the day colonial troops invaded Parihaka after 21 years of bloody war across the country to take land and resources from Māori. A war which has continued through systemic racism and an extractive economy has now led to the devastating social and environmental crises before us,” said Bailey. The 6th of November has been announced in Scotland as a Global Day of Action for climate justice with many protests confirmed across the world.
Taranaki is the so-called ‘energy centre’ of Aotearoa, with companies still producing and exploring for oil and gas. The region is also a major dairy exporter, heavily reliant on fossil fuels for processing, transport and making fertiliser. Rather than downshifting those polluting industries urgently, the government is partially funding more biological meddling of animals and plants, and supporting plans for a new hydrogen plant in Taranaki, that will inefficiently waste renewable energy and water to continue making urea and a fuel that requires expensive new national infrastructure. Other companies are looking at creating hydrogen using gas and unproven carbon capture.
Taranaki Energy Watch spokesperson Sarah Roberts says “supporting industrialised dairying and fossil fuel extraction when we are in a climate crisis is not the way forward. These are emerging technologies with limited application globally and unknown effects yet we are looking at them like our ‘get out of jail free’ card. We live on a finite planet with depleted finite resources and need to accept there can be no more business as usual”, says Roberts.
“We’re coming to these industries to stress this is not the future we want and to outline our demands for urgent change,” said Elliana Darroch from Auckland Peace Action. “We want an end to fossil fuel extraction, industrial fertiliser, dairy exports, and false solutions like hydrogen. There is much to gain by downsizing our export economy and energy consumption while shifting to localised renewable energy systems, diversified food production and other investments that restore nature and community wellbeing.”
“It was just last month that the IPCC report made it abundantly clear again that deep and rapid cuts to emissions are our only hope to restore climate stability,” said Generation Zero spokesperson Adam Currie.
“Climate activists in Aotearoa have been demanding real action for over a decade and showing leadership on the ground – and yet Climate Action Tracker (CAT) reveals the criminal lack of action from successive governments and vested interests,” said Currie. “CAT rates New Zealand’s climate targets, policies and finance as ‘Highly insufficient’, indicating that New Zealand’s climate policies and commitments are not stringent enough to limit warming to 1.5°C and need substantial improvements.”
“We know that a just transition to a beautiful, low-carbon, Te Tiriti compliant Aotearoa is 100% possible. Yet successive governments have failed again and again to put the collective future of the people of Aotearoa above private profit,” says Valerie Morse from Peace Action Wellington. “For the air we breathe, for the kai moana we gather, and for the places we call home – the people are saying enough is enough. It’s time to rise up for climate justice.”