Tangata Whenua and people from all over New Zealand are currently blockading the Petroleum Summit in New Plymouth, to prevent government and oil industry delegates from entering the TSB Showplace.
Inside, the Government will announce the 2017 Block Offer for new gas and oil exploration. Since 2012, over half a million square kilometres of land and sea have been proposed for release, encroaching on people’s properties and the Marine Mammal Sanctuary for the critically endangered Maui’s dolphin.
The blockade is happening as part of ‘The People’s Climate Rally’, organised by a coalition of groups from Taranaki and around New Zealand, in order to disrupt the conference and discuss clean and fair alternatives to the fossil fuel industry.
As well as the blockade, many more people are also showing their opposition to the Petroleum Summit in the family friendly Green Zone under the Clock Tower/at the Huatoki Plaza. There will be speakers and music over the course of the day.
It’s the first time the Government and international oil delegates have held the oil conference in Taranaki. This move comes after years of escalating protests in Wellington and Auckland, which have seen thousands take to the streets and hundreds blockade the Sky City conference venue.
“Today’s blockade intends to disrupt the Petroleum Summit by using non-violent direct action. Not a single new oil well, gas field or coal mine can operate if we are going to avoid a climate catastrophe, yet year after year the Government and oil industry keep meeting to find ways to expand the industry.” says The People’s Climate Rally spokesperson, Emily Tuhi-Ao Bailey.
“We demand a stop to all new oil and gas exploration, drilling and fracking. The extraction and burning of fossil fuels is radically changing our climate, wreaking havoc on our critical infrastructure, agriculture, tourism, human health and food security. It is time to stop.
“Non violent direct action has a long and revered history. Social justice change has always involved people coming together, organising and put their bodies on the line to stand in the way of injustice.
“It is especially important that this is happening in Taranaki. Taranaki has long, bitter experience with the environmental, health and personal impacts from oil and gas activities including drilling, flaring and fracking. For many Māori this is seen as a continuation of colonisation.
“It’s time to be working together for a just transition for all workers into clean and sustainable future. There are no jobs on a dead planet.”
An important part of The People’s Climate Rally will be tomorrow’s focus on solutions. This programme starts at 10.30am at the Senior Citizens Hall on 27 Liardet Street.
There will be talks and workshops with visiting research scholar and author Dr Terrence Loomis, Greens former co-leader Jeannette Fitzsimons, Ecotricity Director Al Yates, Parihaka Papakāinga Sustainable Energy Researchers Josh Curd, and Tihikura Hohaia. At the Huatoki Plaza will be demonstrations of electric vehicles.
There will also be and a public forum on ‘Just Transition off Fossil Fuels’, with experts on renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, indigenous rights and environmental education.
Other groups involved in the coalition:
Climate Justice Taranaki Inc
Friends of Waitara River
Ngātiawa ki Taranaki Trust
Oil Free Wellington
Oil Free Otago