Greenpeace climbers are scaling the outside of the Majestic Centre, the tallest building in Wellington, to reach the headquarters of Austrian oil giant, OMV.
The two activists, Abigail Smith and Nick Hanafin, began the unusual ascent at dawn this morning, and the climb is expected to take all day. If they can make it to OMV’s offices on the 20th floor, they will deliver a message.
They will be deploying banners along the way.
Following the departure of oil majors Chevron and Equinor (formerly Statoil) this month, OMV is the last remaining international oil giant operating in New Zealand.
A self-propelled drill rig, which will be used by OMV to drill exploratory wells off the Taranaki Coast and in the Great South Basin, has just arrived in the country.
Greenpeace New Zealand climate campaigner, Amanda Larsson, says the arrival of the rig comes as governments and councils all over the world are declaring a climate emergency.
“We’ve seen governments including those of the UK, Wales and Scotland declare national climate emergencies, and councils all over New Zealand including Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch, and Dunedin doing the same,” she says.
“We’re living through a climate emergency. If we don’t halve global carbon emissions in just a decade, we’ll be locked into extreme weather and heating that will threaten all life on Earth, including our own.
“Oil companies like OMV have known for 30 years that burning fossil fuels is driving climate change. Instead of acting, the industry has poured billions of dollars into climate change denial and lobbying while continuing to push ever deeper into remote ends of the Earth in search of new oil and gas.”
Last April, in response to the climate crisis, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a ban on new offshore oil and gas exploration permits, making New Zealand one of the first countries in the world to do so.
However, this did not extend to exploration permits for new oil and gas that were issued before the ban, meaning companies like OMV could expand into previously untouched stretches of ocean like the Great South Basin to drill for decades to come.
OMV is on the list of just 100 companies that have caused more than 70% of the world’s climate emissions, and is currently drilling in the Arctic.
Larsson says the oil giant can expect widespread resistance in New Zealand.
“Climate change is the issue of our time and we’re watching a global movement grow in strength and size every day. People everywhere are taking action, including the millions of students around the world going on strike from school,” she says.
“By stopping OMV’s climate destroying activities in the far flung frontier of New Zealand, we’ll send a global signal that in the face of humanity’s biggest challenge ever, people rather than profit will prevail.”