‘Even the introverts are there’: the return of the climate strike

Climate change

Hundreds showed up in Aotea Square and public spaces across the country to call on leaders to start the process of decolonization through climate action

About 200 people marched down Queen Street yesterday, calling for faster and faster environmental protection, in line with protesters doing the same across the country.

The crowds were low due to the massive turnout in late 2019, when 170,000 people showed up across the country to express their concern at the worsening climate crisis.

But although Auckland’s Aotea Square attended only a few hundred people, the level of passion and righteous anger was commensurate with those crowds of the past.

“Shit is so bad, even the introverted are here,” read one young person’s sign as they marched past members of climate action group Extinction Rebellion and event organizers Fridays for the Future Tāmaki Makaurau.

It is the first meeting of this magnitude on an issue that has united much of the younger generation (along with quite a few people around retirement age who amplify the crowd) since the Auckland chapter of School Strike 4 Climate was launched in June. dissolved.

Spokespersons for the group said it was deliberately dissolved after it assessed itself as a “racist, white-dominated space” that “avoided, ignored and symbolized BIPOC voices and demands, especially those of Pasifika and Māori”.

The impact of climate change on Pasifika and Māori was a topic at the heart of the protest, with event organizers saying the aim was to call for climate reparations: “That means governments and businesses must return stolen land.” to indigenous peoples and provide resources to restore it.”

A local tyrannosaurus rex listens to speakers at the rally organized by the Auckland branch of Fridays4Future. Photo: Matthew Scott

Zane Wedding of the indigenous tree advocacy group Mana Rākau said the environmental movement should be paid for by the most powerful in society.

“It should empower the poor,” he said. “The environmental movement needs to amplify the mana of mana whenua. It should breathe new life into the whenua.”

He said climate action should go hand in hand with empowering indigenous communities and women.

“Everything else, whānau, is just colonization,” he said. “The environmental movement must be part of decolonization.”

Mana Rākau’s Zane Wedding told the crowd that climate action cannot be separated from decolonization. Photo: Matthew Scott

The protest comes at a crucial time for local politics, which still have two weeks to go before the new mayor, councilors and local councilors are announced.

Richard Northey is a current board member of Waitematā and Gulf. He said climate action was a bigger issue in these local elections than ever before.

“People are more aware of it. I’ve had people say we shouldn’t do anything, leave it to China and the United States, and so on,” he said. “But how are they going to respond to our soft voice unless we set an example, as we did on nuclear issues. We have to do our part to have an effective voice internationally, then down to the street and community level.”

He was in attendance with fellow local board member and candidate Alex Bonham and Albert-Eden local government candidate Christina Robertson, all of whom have campaigned to reduce emissions by prioritizing public and active modes of transport.

“There have to be changes in the way people move,” Northey said. “Much more use must be made of active and public transport to do our part in mitigating climate change.”

He hoped the meeting would make people aware of the fact that these problems also exist at the local level.

“We’re against people saying we shouldn’t do so much about climate change and people should be able to park and use cars and so on like they used to,” he said. “We’re saying there needs to be some change… we want to make sure that the people who are willing to take the most effective actions are the ones who get chosen.”

The rally resonated across the country, with similar rallies in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and New Plymouth, with some schools turning a blind eye to students skipping class to join the crowd.

A young environmentalist oversees the crowd in Auckland’s Aotea Square. Photo: Matthew Scott

Other speakers included Bianca Ranson and whānau, who represented Protect Pūtiki, the group formed to halt development of Kennedy Point Marina on Waiheke Island.

“We need to make sure that when we talk about climate change, our focus is definitely on the fossil fuel industry,” she said. “But we also need to make sure we make our advocacy for our moana, our largest carbon sink, as loud as possible.”

She spoke about proposals for bottom trawls and dredging in the Gulf of Hauraki and called on the crowd to sign a petition to message Secretary of Oceans and Fisheries David Parker to stop it.

“Our government has declared a climate emergency — but they haven’t signed on to protect our oceans by 30 percent by 2030,” she said. “What our government is saying with the emissions reduction plan is not equivalent to declaring a climate emergency.”

The protesters make their way down Queen Street. Photo: Matthew Scott

After speeches in Aotea Square, the crowd marched down Queen Street toward Britomart, where people wrote messages on the sidewalk in chalk.

At a time when the divisions of New Zealand society were crystallizing in these pandemic years, a man on the side of the road was seen shouting out protest, accusing them of being a member of a certain German political party that came to power in the 1930s. .

The man appeared particularly offended by some protesters’ choice to don masks, and was audibly concerned about the protesters’ ability to breathe freely as they made their way through New Zealand’s main road. .

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