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Christians to join demonstrations

Christians to join demonstrations calling Prime Minister to rule out new oil and gas

Friday 23 March

Next Monday and Tuesday in Wellington Christians will join peaceful demonstrations outside the Petroleum Conference, calling on the Prime Minister to rule out new oil and gas exploration as the next step in leading New Zealand’s transition from fossil fuels.

The Petroleum Conference is an annual gathering of industry, academics and government. Past Energy Ministers have used this conference to announce block offers - new areas of land and sea on offer for oil and gas exploration. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently asked the public for “more time” to decide whether her government will do the same.

The Conference will be a focal point for demonstrations calling for an urgent transition to clean energy. Right Reverend Justin Duckworth, Bishop of Wellington, explains why Christians will have a presence:

"Our society is at a point where nearly every person's lifestyle is dependent on fossil fuels. We're addicted. But we're tired of being addicted; and tired of being complicit in this harm of the earth. We’re asking our Prime Minister to help us ‘get clean’. Our hope is that this transition starts today, with her ruling out any new permits for oil and gas."

Kate Day, Advocacy Manager for the Diocese, describes what is planned:

“Our peaceful actions will include sitting and praying - for courage for our leaders; for a smooth transition for workers; for people affected by climate change; and for each of us whose lifestyles disrespect our common home. Some of us will hold signs saying “Love our neighbours, end oil,” to highlight that we must end carbon pollution in order to properly love other people.”

For Christians, protecting the climate is one aspect of living in ‘right relationship’ with the earth and neighbours. Rt Rev Dr Eleanor Sanderson, Assistant Bishop of Wellington explains:

“At the heart of Christian spirituality is an appreciation that land, sea and sky are a sacred gift of hospitality given to us by a God of generosity, care and love. We, in turn, are invited to share this world in such a way that we do not take life from others. Our environmental crisis shows that we have not yet learnt to do that well. It is urgent that we address the damage that we cause, and seek more creative ways of living together with the rest of creation.”

The Anglican Diocese of Wellington has taken its own steps to mitigate carbon emissions, voting to divest from fossil fuels; endorsing the Zero Carbon Act campaign; employing a climate advocate; and establishing a network of 30 parish ‘catalysts’ of environmental action. Newlands-Paparangi parish, for instance, recently planted their 5000th tree in five years. The church also funds disaster relief and poverty reduction on many ‘front lines’ of climate change.

Kate Day concludes,

“For church members to peacefully demonstrate at this conference is a natural next step, as it makes sense for us to address pollution at its source. We acknowledge that our own lifestyles are contributors to pollution. But we can’t change this alone. We call on the Prime Minister to lead our transition to clean energy and related infrastructure with urgency.”

ends

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