This is a Stop the Bad Stuff call-out for action. Despite the more hopeful policies of our new government, the fossil fuel industry rolls on in New Zealand. The industry will be holding its annual summit on March 26-28 in Wellington. They say on their website, ‘New Zealand’s oil and gas sector is poised for action and ready for growth – exploration activity is progressing and there is genuine excitement about the opportunities available and the development underway.’
Growth? When our government has a goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050? This means that extraction and burning of oil and gas must be phased out by or before 2050. Our Climate Declaration spells this out exactly. ‘Senior government officials’ are said to be involved in the summit. Will they be speaking of a phase-out?
The ‘carbon budget’ is a calculation of how much more carbon dioxide (or its equivalent in other greenhouse gases) can be emitted globally before the blanketing greenhouse effect will drive the global average temperature to increase by 1.5 degrees or 2 degrees. Obviously, the budget for 1.5 degrees is smaller than that for 2 degrees. The quantity of carbon in the carbon budget can be compared with the quantity of carbon in fossil fuels in known reserves. It has become clear that the carbon in known reserves is very much greater than the carbon budget consistent with relative climate safety. It follows then that a great deal of the already known fossil fuel reserves cannot be burned if we are to have a safe climate. Therefore there is no point, if we recognise this argument, in exploring for more. It is a waste of human and financial resources. This has to do with why many people are withdrawing their investments from fossil fuels in general.
Clearly, this argument is threatening to almost all in the oil and gas industry. There appears to be little mention of the issue in the conference programme, whereas it should be the highest priority issue for the industry. There is a panel on ‘the environment’, featuring the Minister for the Environment, the CEO of WWF and a representative of the industry’s environment and social concerns body (IPIECA).
We must add to this argument the damage that any industry extracting material from the Earth’s crust does to people, other species, ecosystems and landscapes. The people of Taranaki have suffered from this damage, greatly worsened by ‘fracking’. There is great concern about suffering inflicted on marine mammals from seismic exploration.
Time to say NO!
Our Climate Declaration specifies:
Phase out extraction and burning of fossil fuels by 2050. Clearly, such a phase-out is a huge undertaking, assisted by technological change, and must actively begin now.
End deep sea exploration.
There is a plan to blockade the conference in Wellington on March 26th to impede the delegates’ entry, as was done successfully at last year’s petroleum summit in New Plymouth and the previous year in Auckland. The conference planners know this is likely and haven’t yet announced the site of the summit. Oil Free Wellington and Greenpeace are lead planners. The idea is for groups to converge on the day, and to have hundreds of people with banners and signs blockading the conference.
Be there! Come to Wellington if you possibly can! Register with the Oil Free Wellington website for ongoing information http://oilfreewellington.org.nz/. The day before the beginning of the Petroleum Summit, March 25th, there will be a meeting of activists for tactical planning.
Those of us who are grandparents can have a special role in this event. We’re calling ourselves ‘SuperGrans’ to signify our special powers. We care deeply about the world we’re leaving to our mokopuna, and some of us are more easily able to risk arrest in nonviolent direct action. We’re planning to wear something that distinguishes us as SuperGrans. There will be some SuperGrans who will risk arrest, and others who will be important close supporters. In the lead-up time we can communicate by e-mail to decide on our main message, what we wear, our roles, our spokesperson. If you can consider being a SuperGran, please contact me directly, at [email protected]