Climate activist and Dunedin grandmother Rosemary Penwarden is appearing in court today over charges brought against her for peaceful protest of the 2019 oil industry conference in Queenstown.

Greenpeace programme director Niamh O’Flynn is in the Dunedin court to show the organisation’s support and solidarity with Penwarden.

“All around us now, we see the catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis. Floods, droughts and fires are ravaging whole communities and taking lives and livelihoods,” says O’Flynn.

“It is also a crisis that has been knowingly caused by the oil industry, which for decades has wilfully delayed action and put profit before people and planet.

“Growing numbers of people, like Rosemary, are finding the courage to stand up to that industry with peaceful protest and civil disobedience, make their call to government for real climate action loud and clear. To me, those people are heroes, not criminals.

“The real criminals are the corporations like the oil industry and Fonterra, which use every trick in the book to delay action so that they can continue polluting for profit.

“Legal cases brought or instigated by those industries and those who would defend them can be used to stifle criticism and erode people’s rights. We must stand together and push back against that.

“The right to peaceful protest is essential for a healthy democracy, and indeed, virtually every positive change we’ve seen in society over the last century has been driven by some form of peaceful protest before it became accepted and then valued by society.

“People are more concerned than ever about the climate crisis, and with the Government’s apparent failure to grasp the scale of the threat, there has never been a greater need for peaceful protest and climate activism.”