Hundreds descend on Central Auckland to blockade NZ’s largest oil event
More than 200 people descended on New Zealand’s largest oil industry conference at dawn this morning blocking its entrances as part of a Greenpeace-organised demonstration of peaceful civil disobedience.
It‘s the first time in New Zealand that Greenpeace has invited the general public to take civil disobedience action en masse. The day’s activities will be livestreamed.
Climate campaigner Steve Abel says despite years of public opposition and a failure to find any deep sea oil, John Key’s Government has continued to invest in the drilling that threatens our communities, coastlines and climate.
The protest comes just days after the announcement that February 2016 was the hottest month in history.
“We have a Government and an oil industry hell-bent on drilling for the very oil that must stay in the ground if we’re going to avoid climate change causing human catastrophe,” says Abel.
Currently, hundreds of people are planning to sit outside the main entrances of SkyCity in Auckland, where the 2016 Petroleum New Zealand Conference is being held. Protesters are expected to include Anglican Ministers, nurses, teachers and members of the Tuvaluan community, whose Islands are on the frontline of sea-level rise.
Delegates arriving at the conference will be forced to skulk through basement entrances, step over people lining the pavement and navigate through a series of large red and white cards Greenpeace are calling “Oil Against Humanity”.
The cards, a spin-off of popular cult-like game Cards Against Humanity, pose a series of questions and answers about climate change and the oil industry.
Inside the conference, Minister of Energy and Resources Simon Bridges will announce the 2016 Block Offers – the areas of New Zealand’s ocean that will be on the market for oil exploration this year.
Last year, almost 430,000 square kilometres were opened up for potential drilling.
Abel says that the oil industry can have no future if we are to have any future.
“It’s mad that John Key continues to prop it up. Climate change is the defining struggle of our generation and it needs to be dealt with now. We know that public participation is one of the most effective tools for creating change,” he says.
“Peaceful civil disobedience has been successfully used throughout history in the face of huge injustices. We’re taking inspiration from people like Gandhi, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr, and the movements here in New Zealand that opposed apartheid and made us nuclear free.
“In the face of Government and industry inaction it’s going to take people power to secure the future we so urgently need - one that’s run on 100% clean energy.”