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Climate Roadshow Begins

The Election Roadshow for Climate, an initiative of Extinction Rebellion (XR) supported by Aotearoa Climate Emergency (ACE), is about to hit the road to put climate and ecological change to the fore this election.

The Roadshow starts concurrently from Bluff and Cape Reinga on Monday (September 14) and ends at Parliament in Wellington on Friday September 25. It will be promoting three election issues: the declaration of a national climate emergency; a Citizens’ Assembly on climate next year; and a green economic recovery post-Covid-19.

Candidates in each of the 18+ electorates to be visited by the Roadshow have been surveyed for their views on these issues, so voters can be informed about where their local candidates stand. The results will be prominently displayed at each stop.

In addition, local folk will be interviewed about how the climate and ecological crises are already affecting them, and the outlook for their region for the future.

In Bluff, the South Island team will be speaking with Green party candidate Rochelle Francis and Labour MP Lizz Craig, while at Cape Reinga, the North Island crew will be interviewing Karyn Nikora-Kerr about how climate change is affecting the water table in Aupōuri, Northland.

“People are crying out for change but there is this disconnect between what people want and what politicians are willing to go out on a limb for,” says XR spokesperson Mathias Corwin. “There’s a surge of interest in our collective future and that’s part of what this roadshow is all about: making sure that people’s voices are heard and that politicians are listening.

“Our strategy is to get politicians to pledge support for these crucial, planet-saving ideas. And then we encourage voters to elect as many of these politicians into parliament as we can so that they can enact these policies.”

Extinction Rebellion will be joined by the Aotearoa Climate Emergency (ACE) network on the road, and amongst other bodies, several unions have indicated support for a Citizens’ Assembly on climate. The Climate Change Commission has also indicated it would support such an Assembly to inform its work, if the government were to enable one.

“Over 1400 governance agencies across 28 different countries have declared a climate emergency,” says Mathias Corwin. “A Citizens’ Assembly on climate is already being implemented in France and the UK. A green recovery is favoured by 86% of New Zealanders. These aren’t radical ideas. These are necessary ideas.

“COVID-19 has shown us how quickly the political and economic landscape can change. The government has demonstrated it is capable of taking swift and decisive action, and we are now asking for an equally urgent response to the climate emergency.”

Climate Roadshow ready to go - North Island Crew Bios.

Two Auckland women are coming out of retirement to form the North Island contingent of Extinction Rebellion's Election Roadshow for Climate.

Caril Cowan (70) and Dot Austin (65) will start their 11-day journey from Cape Reinga on Monday 14 September, and wind their way down the North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui) via most of the main centres to arrive in Wellington on Friday 25 September, where they'll link up with their counterparts from the South Island outside Parliament.

Caril Cowan

After a career in health and education, and a lifetime commitment to activism that began with the peace movement against nuclear weaponry in the 1970s, Caril believes action on climate change is so urgently needed that she cannot stand by and simply watch it unfold.

“I have seven grandchildren. Unbridled greed has created a global threat that will severely impact their quality of life, unless we act now,” Caril says.

Dot, having recently retired after 46 years in nursing, has similar concerns.

Dot Austin

“I cannot stand by and tell my children that I did nothing to stop the mass extinction of human and animal species,” Dot says. “This threat is real and immediate, and we have to do our best to make this issue this election's major concern – because it cannot wait another term.”

Both were drawn to join Extinction Rebellion by the group's focus on climate change and its kaupapa of nonviolent civil disobedience.

As the roadshow travels the country, it will focus on giving local voters feedback about where various parliamentary candidates stand on the issues of the climate and ecological emergency. The roadshow will also be promoting a sustainable economic recovery from Covid-19, as well as the need to institute a Citizens' Assembly that honours the unique knowledge and role of Māori as tangata whenua through meaningful partnership, to give the NZ public a voice in responding to the climate emergency.

The South Island Roadshow crew will start from Bluff at the same time (September 14). Their rendezvous in Wellington will coincide with an International Day of Action on climate change.

Climate Roadshow ready to go - South Island Crew Bios.

Extinction Rebellion (XR) activist Andrew Sutherland and Aotearoa Climate Emergency founding member Phil Saxby are joining forces to form the South Island contingent of the XR Election Roadshow for Climate.

Andrew and Phil will start their 11-day journey from Bluff on Monday 14 September, and wind their way up the South Island (Te Wai Pounamu) via most of the main centres to arrive in Wellington on Friday 25 September, where they'll link up with their counterparts from the North Island outside Parliament.

As a lifelong environmental activist and father of three, Andrew believes that the climate emergency is the most important issue that humanity currently faces.

Andrew Sutherland

“I’ve spent most of my life trying to make a positive difference to the environment – everything from starting a Greenpeace branch to recycling initiatives,” says Andrew. “But everything that I’ve worked for will pale into insignificance if we don’t start acting with real urgency on climate change.”

Phil, who has worked for many years in the health sector and was one of the founders of the Electoral Reform Coalition, has similar concerns.

Phil Saxby with Meris

“We have known about global warming for decades, but most countries have not been willing to redirect their economies into a sustainable, low-carbon future,” says Phil. “We can’t change the world, but we can set a good example in the South Pacific by decarbonising our economy as fast as practicable. It won’t be easy unless we can foster a general public consensus on climate policy – for example, by holding a Citizens’ Assembly on climate, as France has done this year.”

As the roadshow travels the country, it will focus on giving local voters feedback on where various parliamentary candidates stand on the issues of the climate and ecological emergency. The roadshow will also be promoting a sustainable economic recovery from Covid-19, as well as the need to institute a Citizens' Assembly that honours the unique knowledge and role of Māori as tangata whenua through meaningful partnership, to give the NZ public a voice in responding to the climate emergency.

The North Island Roadshow crew will start from Cape Reinga at the same time (September 14). Their rendezvous in Wellington will coincide with an International Day of Action on climate change.

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