Greenpeace climbers prepare message above Beehive for US Secretary of State

Press release - June 6, 2017
Four Greenpeace climbers are preparing to hang a large banner from a crane next to the Beehive to protest the arrival of US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, who is in Wellington.

The action takes place days after the Trump Administration withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement, causing global condemnation.

Hundreds of people are also expected to gather on Parliament lawn to “unwelcome” Tillerson, in a peaceful protest organised by climate group 350 Aotearoa.

The US Secretary of State is meeting New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English and Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee.

Greenpeace climate campaigner, Kate Simcock, says while world leaders have blasted the Trump administration’s isolationist stance on climate change, one of the few who has been notably silent is New Zealand Prime Minister, Bill English.

“If there was ever a time to show leadership, it is now. But instead, our Prime Minister is engaging with one of the world’s biggest climate deniers,” she says.

 “Before he started doing Trump’s dirty work, Tillerson was the CEO of ExxonMobil, the oil company that systematically funded climate-denying propaganda and misinformation with the sole purpose of delaying global action on climate change.

“English needs to choose what side of history he’s on when it comes to climate change – on the right side of history, or the Trump side of history.

“While the Trump administration tries desperately to keep the most destructive industries in the world alive, the New Zealand Government is doing pretty much the same – relying on carbon-intensive 1950s-style economic strategies that promote coal mining, oil drilling, fracking, road building, and dairy intensification.
“The scariest part about this is that unlike the US, New Zealand’s clean energy sector is not thriving. In practice, New Zealand’s climate policy is actually worse than the States’ because our per-capita emissions are increasing at a greater rate.”
Denying climate change and the rapid rise of clean energy is “desperate and futile”, says Simcock. The world is already making the transition at breakneck speed - renewables now make up more than half of the world’s new power capacity, and are growing by the day.
“The world is moving forward without the US, which has now essentially surrendered any global leadership. We are witnessing a huge shift in the global order as places like Europe and China begin to lead the way forward. If New Zealand continues to align itself with Trump’s USA, we’re going to be left for dust,” she says.