Two stories from opposite ends of the world highlight looming dangers for New Zealand.
Peaceful Protest. Rigs. Armed response. Seized ships. Risky oil. These are the topics that have been dominating our week. In case you missed it, 30 Greenpeace activists (including two Kiwis) have been detained and held under armed guard in the Russian Arctic this week (to catch up on all that’s been happening, check out this timeline). They were there trying to keep the Arctic oil free and protesting at Gazprom's frankly shockingly unsafe attempts to extract the first oil from those icy waters.
It's been quite hectic here trying to do everything we can to support our activists on the other side of the world. It's certainly a strange experience to be so involved in something going on over 15,000km away but it's also hard not to feel that we're right on course to see dramatic scenes like this a lot closer to home...
Firstly, while Gazprom (and their Arctic partners Shell) certainly don't have a clean record, the Texan company Anadarko who are planning to drill in New Zealand this summer was directly involved in the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst oceanic oil spill ever.
Secondly, in a move scarily reminiscent of what we've seen in the Russian Arctic, the Key Government is busy rolling back the democratic rights of New Zealanders to have their say about deep-sea drilling. This has come on top of another recent law change that criminalises certain parts of protests at sea.
New Zealanders and other concerned global citizens have been speaking out this week in support of the Arctic 30, the right to protest and an oil free Arctic. People all around the world emailed Russian embassies in their nations and gathered at their gates. Clearly the tide is turning for the outdated fossil-fuel industry. All around the world people are speaking out against further destruction of our planet. Do we really want to see New Zealand open up to this unsafe, polluting, short-termist extraction model?
That seems to be the course we’re taking. With the recent announcement of a consultation period on almost half a million square kilometres of new exploration areas and the Government's attempts to keep you out of the decision making process and stifle protest at sea you have to wonder where we’re eventually headed?
It’s really important that everyone in New Zealand takes this chance to reflect on the scenes in the Arctic and what the Russian response to peaceful protest tells us about the lengths governments, including our own, will go to to protect the destructive oil and gas industries. As our 30 activists are being held after questioning in Murmansk, we have to decide whether we’re going to watch this happen or make our voices heard.
You can take action here to defend your right to say NO to deep sea oil drilling (http://act.gp/1feymcO) and to help #FreeTheArctic30 (http://www.greenpeace.org/freeouractivists)
- John Dunford @workallwinter