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“The World Is Waking Up” - DCC Opposes 2017 Block Offer


Dunedin City Council met today to choose their stance on the 2017 Petroleum Block Offer. There were submissions from numerous groups including Catholic members of Dunedin community, Seniors for Climate Action, 350 Dunedin and Oil Free Otago. No opposing public submissions to the block offer were presented today and it was noted that in previous years opposing submissions from the public have made up less than 5% of submissions.

Dunedin City Council members accepted the urgency of a response to climate change, particularly in the wake of ratifying the Paris Climate Agreement in October. Among them, councillors shared motivations to block the offer such as political integrity, moral responsibility to future generations and demonstrating leadership.

Dunedin Mayor David Cull stated, “The world is waking up. We can’t identify benefits of exploring for oil off our coast. We don’t have any kind of right to trade in our grandkids futures for a few pieces of silver now.”

The majority of councillors supported opposing the 2017 Block Offer more strongly than previous years.

Councillor Christine Garey said, “We have a moral responsibility to our young people.”

“I need to be able to look my daughter in the face and know I helped make the right decision.”

Cr Damien Newell stated, “My obligation is to my whanau, my tamariki and my mokopuna - to be able to look them in the eye and say we did all we could with what information we had.”

Oil Free Otago and 350 Dunedin applaud councillors who came out against petroleum exploration and encourage councilors who would like to see exploration continue to review the facts.

Opposing Councillors included Cr Andrew Whiley, Cr Mike Lord, Cr Rachel Elder, Cr Conrad Stedmen and Cr Lee Vandervis.

A public submission by 350 Dunedin spokesperson Charlie Montague included the words, “Andrew Whiley, the industry spokesman in the room and obvious conflict of interest may try to convince you that gas is green”.

Cr Whiley cited feeling “attacked” at this comment and pointed out he does not economically directly benefit from being an industry spokesperson. Cr Whiley continued to comment that gas is “not as bad as coal.”

While Cr Mike Lord acknowledged the dangers of climate change he also shared a sense of hopelessness, saying, “If we’re doomed, we’re doomed and I am happy for us to keep exploring for fossil fuels.”

Oil Free Otago and 350 Dunedin are excited to work alongside the new council over the next few years to maintain community accountability and relationships.


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