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Austrian protests break out over OMV’s NZ drilling plans

Thursday, October 31: Climate activists have staged an oil spill with giant whale sculptures outside the Vienna headquarters of Austrian oil giant OMV, in protest of its plans to drill for oil in New Zealand.

Greenpeace activists alongside Māori climate activists and iwi leader, Mike Smith, took part in the activity on Wednesday local time.

The protest follows an announcement by Smith last week that he will file a communication at the International Criminal Court against OMV’s CEO Rainer Seele, for OMV’s part in driving climate change with new oil and gas exploration.

OMV is on the list of 100 companies responsible for over 70% of the world’s climate emissions.

The oil giant is the last major international oil company operating in New Zealand, following the ban on new oil and gas exploration permits last year. This summer, it plans to drill 12 wells off the coast of Taranaki, and a high risk deep water well in the Great South Basin.

Greenpeace New Zealand climate campaigner, Amanda Larsson, says the protests in Austria are the latest in a series of activities resisting OMV’s New Zealand drilling plans.

"We’ve seen a growing movement of people and communities up and down Aotearoa standing up to confront OMV’s plans to drill for oil and gas here in the middle of a climate emergency," she says.

"This movement has been noticed internationally, and has ignited similar action in OMV’s home country of Austria, where the company is today being told to stop exploring for oil in New Zealand.

"Over the past year, tens of millions of people have left their schools, homes, and businesses and taken to the streets to demand climate action. We’re watching a global awakening, and those responsible for driving the climate crisis can’t hide any longer."

Greenpeace Austria campaigner, Lukas Meus, says Austrians stand alongside New Zealanders.

"We are in the midst of a climate emergency. If we want to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees in line with science and protect low-lying coastal communities from catastrophic sea level rise, then we need to end the search for new oil and gas reserves today," he says.

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