Vienna, Austria – Today, Greenpeace Austria activists staged a symbolic oil spill with giant whale sculptures outside the headquarters of Austrian oil and gas giant, OMV. The protest, joined by a Māori Indigenous leader, aims to show the risks of oil drilling activities, scheduled to take place in the next few weeks off New Zealand’s coast, that threaten whales and critically endangered dolphins and go against the Paris climate agreement.

New Zealand Māori Indigenous leader and climate activist, Mike Smith, said: “OMV management have read the UN reports on the climate crisis, they know what is at stake and they have the power to make a difference. I am here to bring a message to OMV that you do not have the required permission of the indigenous people of New Zealand to be operating in our waters”.

Oil and gas drilling by OMV is planned for a highly sensitive region that overlaps with the only known foraging ground for blue whales in New Zealand.[1] The drilling zone is also near the habitat of the critically endangered Māui dolphin, of which there are only 63 left in the world.[2] OMV is on the list of 100 fossil fuel producers who are accountable for more than 70% of climate-harming emissions since 1988, causing more extreme storms, floods, droughts and wildfires and threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions of people around the world.[3]

Greenpeace is campaigning globally for an end to toxic oil, coal and gas industries that are fueling the climate emergency. Greenpeace Austria is demanding that OMV leaves New Zealand now and cease exploration of any kind, in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Greenpeace Austria campaigner, Lukas Meus said: “We are in the midst of a climate emergency. If we want to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees in line with science and protect low-lying coastal communities from catastrophic sea level rise, then we need to end the search for new oil and gas reserves today. OMV should follow the example of all other oil and gas majors, and leave New Zealand.”

“As well as fueling the climate crisis, OMV is exposing endangered marine life to extreme risks with it’s drilling plans, and they’ve already caused oil spills in this region. The company’s management still does not seem to understand the risk it is taking with offshore drilling.”

Following a government ban on new drilling licenses, all international oil and gas majors have left New Zealand, with the exception of OMV who continue to exploit existing permits. Campaigners are calling for OMV to leave now.

 

ENDS

 

Photos and videos: https://media.greenpeace.org/collection/27MZIFJ8YJP1Z

(updated throughout the day as new images become available)

 

NOTES:

[1] Blue Whales, New Zealand Government Department of Conservation and

Evidence for an unrecognised blue whale foraging ground in New Zealand Report

[2] Facts about Māui dolphin, New Zealand Government Department of Conservation

[3] Carbon Major Report

 

Contacts:

Julia Karzel, Comms Officer at Greenpeace Austria: julia.karzel@greenpeace.org, +43 664 612 67 25

Greenpeace International Press Desk: pressdesk.int@greenpeace.org, +31 (0)20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)