Press release: Taranaki rallies for Global Climate Strike this Friday

A coalition of community groups is planning a rally this Friday to support the Global Climate Strike first initiated by student activist Greta Thunberg in 2018. The coalition is calling for urgent action to reduce emissions and support communities to adapt to unprecedented climate impacts. The global event on Friday will kick off in five cities across Aotearoa New Zealand, including Ngāmotu (New Plymouth) from 12:30pm at Huatoki Plaza, followed by rallies in hundreds of other towns and cities.

Since the last school strike for climate almost three and a half years ago, little action has been taken by global or local leaders. It genuinely worries me that we can go on with business as usual while floods ravage Pakistan, heat waves surge through the UK and Europe, and here in Aotearoa New Zealand we have had our wettest winter on record. It feels like a climate emergency, so why aren’t we acting like it?” says Claudia Hickey, Student Counsellor, one of the rally organisers.  

Despite the offshore oil permit ban in 2018, oil and gas drilling has not stopped, with OMV actively drilling at the Maui field and Beach Energy’s drill plan at the Kupe platform. Onshore, Todd Energy and Greymouth Petroleum continue to drill and frack around Taranaki communities. In Southland, Bathurst Resources wants to open a new coal mine.  

The government seems to talk a lot but do little. Can you believe we are still digging up coal and drilling for oil and gas, in the middle of a climate emergency? Well, it is happening, and we demand it stop,” says Nathan Hills of Rapid Reforestation Community Group.

This week, the Climate Change Commission chair pointed out the failings of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and that the government should no longer allow companies to “plant and pollute”. 

Indeed, planting trees is not the silver bullet. More needs to be done to actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions at source. We all know that industrial animal farming is a huge climate wrecker. But diverse, regenerative agriculture incorporating tree crops and cereal would improve water quality, heal the soil and provide farmers with more resilient and sustainable income. Some farmers are getting onboard and we want more,” says Urs Signer of Climate Justice Taranaki.

Transport emissions are so high in Aotearoa because the places we live, work, and play in are built around cars. Many of us will come to the rally on our bikes, on foot or buses, to demonstrate our support for public and active transport. All levels of government must invest in more and better public transport, with safer walking and cycling, so communities can reshape our cities with these in mind,” says Jenn O’Connell of North Taranaki Cycling Advocates.

The government’s inaction to address climate change is hurting people, especially young people who must cope with an uncertain future. Genuine, collective efforts are needed to enable systemic change that re-create not just a survivable but a thriving future for all. Our Friday gathering will kick start such efforts, do come along,” says Hannah Mackenzie of Climate Focused Feelings.

The event will include live music and speakers, and an opportunity to take the message to the heart of government by signing a large, colourful open letter to be presented to New Plymouth MP Glen Bennett.

Our four demands are:

·         more public transport with safer walking and cycling,

·         radically reduced farming emissions,

·         an end to oil, gas and coal mining, and

·         systemic change to heal people and the earth.

The rally is part of the global Climate Strike movement – also known as Fridays for Futures.