Greenpeace activists occupy Government climate ship caught searching for oil

Press release - November 24, 2015
Five Greenpeace activists stormed on-board a New Zealand Government ship in Wellington this morning and are now locked to it, after discovering it has been searching for oil.

Greenpeace says the NIWA taxpayer-funded climate and ocean research boat, Tangaroa, has been refitted at a cost of $24 million for oil and gas exploration, and is now surveying for oil on the East Coast of the North Island on behalf of petroleum giants Statoil and Chevron.

In response, three activists got on-board the vessel and locked themselves to the top of its mast, while a further two are secured to the deck.

The climbers are preparing to unfurl a sail-shaped banner from the mast, reading: “Climb it Change”, while the remaining activists have attached other banners all over the boat with the same message.

The Tangaroa had been preparing to leave Wellington Harbour, where it had made a pit stop, to continue oil exploration. The Greenpeace group have likely delayed it from doing that.

The protest comes just days before the Paris Climate Conference, where world leaders including Prime Minister John Key are supposed to be meeting to agree on how to tackle climate change.

Greenpeace climate campaigner, Steve Abel, says the John Key-led Government are completely dishonest.

“Right now, as John Key gets ready to head out to Paris for climate change talks, this taxpayer-funded science ship that should be doing vital environment work is trying to head out to survey our waters for the climate-wrecking oil industry.”

It’s yet another example of the National Government’s “obsessive” oil agenda, says Abel, and contradicts climate science which says most of the Earth’s oil needs to stay in the ground if we want to avoid catastrophic climate change.

“The Tangaroa is trying to find oil, which the industry then wants to burn, heating up our planet. This will cause global suffering, including for thousands of families in New Zealand and the Pacific who could be forced from their homes by extreme weather and rising seas.”

Abel says “Climb it Change” is a nod to civil disobedience and the fact that people power and action is what is stopping the fossil fuel industry all over the world.

“The People’s Climate March this weekend is an example of that. It’s set to be the biggest climate mobilisation in history, and hundreds of thousands of people all over the world, including in 33 towns and cities throughout New Zealand, are expected to hit the streets and take a stand for the climate. We need to take the power back and protect our children’s future.”