Press release: Taranaki to join Global Climate Strike

Two weeks on from Cyclone Gabrielle, New Plymouth along with ten other cities across Aotearoa, and thousands more communities across the world, are calling for more urgent action to curb climate change.

Climate Justice Taranaki, Rapid Reforestation, Forest and Bird, Taranaki Energy Watch, Climate Focussed Feelings, firefighters and other groups are co-hosting a rally and hikoi at lunch time (12-1:30pm) this Friday, at Puke Ariki Landing (Huatoki Plaza if wet). The hikoi will conclude with a short workshop to help neighbourhood groups organise to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

The groups are calling for an end to fossil fuel extraction; radical reductions in farm emissions while transitioning to regenerative farming; more support for public transport, cycling and walking; better protection for our wetlands and oceans; and systemic change that connects and heals the earth and people.

“The weather events around New Zealand, even just in the last couple of months, are unprecedented, but they are definitely not unexpected. Cyclones, high rainfall, drought, marine heatwaves – climate change is now whacking New Zealanders full in the face (and our pockets). The question is, will this be enough to spur us all to take great courageous action towards a more balanced future? Will it be enough to rapidly wean us off fossil fuel addiction?” asked Kathryn Mercer, one of the rally organisers.

“The deadly cyclone and floods are a stark reminder that we are not prepared for climate change, and we are not doing enough to reduce our emissions to alleviate the impacts on our planet and communities. Local and central government must take stronger action to reign in our biggest climate polluters – dairy and fossil fuel energy companies – and must take stronger action to protect our communities from threats such as forestry slash, encroachment over wetlands and poor civil infrastructure.” said Tuhi-Ao Bailey of Climate Justice Taranaki.

“For years, Forest & Bird has been calling for climate action and for nature to be at the heart of our efforts to slow and adapt to climate change. Nature can help us withstand these storms, but only if we help nature first. Nature can protect us, but we have to give her a fighting chance,” said Janet Hunt of North Taranaki Forest & Bird.

This is not the time to despair and give up. The IPCC have made it clear that we already have enough knowledge around the changes we need to make, it is just a matter of acting speedily. Every percentage of a degree matters.

“We need to rapidly set aside nature (30% of oceans, wetlands and indigenous forests globally) and protect it if we are going to meet our UN COP15 commitments for biodiversity. Such nature-based solutions will help to heal the climate and the natural world around us,” said Nathan Hills of Rapid Reforestation.

“Our transport emissions in Aotearoa are high because our cities and towns are built around cars; but it doesn’t have to be that way. We can build good homes closer to the places of work, learn, and play. We can create public transport connections and streets that are open to people walking and riding bikes. We can create green and shared spaces for everyone to enjoy. By making these kinds of changes, we can live in ways more connected to each other and our environment,” says Jenn O’Connell of North Taranaki Cycling Advocates.

“I am conscious that the impacts of cyclone Gabrielle here in Aotearoa are ongoing and raw for many. However, while this event is fresh in our minds and hearts, I think it is critical that we realise and learn from its severity, listen to our climate experts and indigenous voices… and most importantly, do something about it!  It shouldn’t take another extreme weather event for politicians to take climate change seriously. Act now!” said Claudia Hickey, student counsellor.

“People ask us why we bother marching. We march to give government, business and organisations a mandate to make dramatic changes. We march to know that we are not alone in our fear and grief. To know that there are many of us doing what we can with what we have to see the transformations we need, to be encouraged,” said Mercer.

Everyone is welcome to come and join us on Friday and people are encouraged to bring placards and blue sheets to create a giant wave to acknowledge the impacts of the unprecedented flooding and sea level rise.