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A high school student has taken over what was meant to be a speech delivered by Greenpeace head Russel Norman at an Environmental Protection Authority conference today.

Young climate activist delivers hard-hitting speech to the EPA

Today, a high school student took over what was meant to be a speech delivered by Greenpeace head Russel Norman at an Environmental Protection Authority conference today.Norman had been invited by the EPA to speak at the private event, but in a surprise twist handed the microphone to Wellington high school student and climate activist Sorcha Carr…She did not mince words.Add your voice in support:https://act.greenpeace.org/page/49386/petition/1

Posted by Greenpeace New Zealand on Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Norman had been invited by the EPA to speak at the private event, but in a surprise twist handed the microphone to Wellington high school student, Sorcha Carr, instead. Norman said it was time the Authority started listening to the voices of the future.

Sorscha Carr with Russel Norman outside the EPA event

In a mic drop moment, Carr told the government agency charged with protecting New Zealand’s environment that it had failed.

“Sacred Heart College is where I should be right now, celebrating my final week of school with pranks and banter. But instead, here I am, because yet again, the people we have entrusted with our lives and environment have failed to protect me, my brothers and my sisters of Aotearoa,” she said.

Carr implored the EPA to hold a public hearing into an application by oil giant OMV to undertake high risk deep water drilling off the coast of Otago.

The Authority has been considering the application behind closed doors, despite mounting pressure and a 12,000 strong petition to make it public in order for local communities, iwi, scientists and local businesses to have a say.

Under New Zealand law, the EPA doesn’t need to hold a public consultation for such applications, but has discretion to do so if it deems consultation “necessary or desirable”. Until now, the Authority has refused make OMV’s application public.

During her speech, Carr said the impacts of OMV’s drilling could be devastating for the future of young people around the country.

“Oil drilling has no place in Aotearoa. It threatens entire ecosystems, and the fruits of such labour threatens the future of the millions of children around the world and New Zealand,” she said.

“It’s time to stop hiding behind the greed and profit. It’s time to stand up and tell the truth. As a democratic society, we deserve to know about this process.”

Greenpeace’s Norman says he hopes Carr’s speech will inspire the EPA to put the future of New Zealanders first, and reject OMV’s application.

“Today Sorcha has bravely stood up on behalf of us all, to give us the voice that we’re being denied. The EPA has a moral obligation to act on this,” he says.

“Sorcha is one of millions of young people around the world who are being forced to take action on a problem they didn’t create, who are facing a climate emergency on such an immense scale that their future is uncertain. We simply cannot afford to let them down.”

The pair filmed the encounter on a mobile phone and posted it online.

ENDS

Watch the video

Sorcha Carr’s speech to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) delivered 

Kia ora, my name is Sorcha Carr, I am a year 13 at Sacred Heart College, Lower Hutt. I am a full time student and climate activist. Sacred Heart College is where I should be right now, celebrating my final week of school with pranks and banter. But instead, here I am, because yet again, the people we have entrusted with our lives and environment have failed to protect me, my brothers and my sisters of Aotearoa.

A historic 3.5% of Aotearoa’s population took to the streets last month in protest of the destruction of their futures due to the greed of the few exploiting the many. One of those few is Austrian oil company OMV. A company that is one of just 100 that has caused over 70% of the world’s climate emissions. A company you are right now considering granting the right to drill for new oil in our precious ocean. And despite the call of thousands, you have chosen to make this decision behind closed doors, without any public input. How dare you go behind the backs of every single one of those people who have stood up and marched in the streets, by taking away their voice on a decision that affects their futures, their children and their grandchildren. How dare you even consider granting OMV’s oil drilling permit without giving us a chance to have a say.

Do the voices of Kiwi’s even matter to you! Do you ever stop to think about the children affected by the consequences of this proposed drilling! How can the “Environmental Protection Authority” even consider deciding on a high risk deep water oil drilling proposal without input from the people it will most affect. I have spent many hours this year out on the streets, protesting inaction, betrayal and greed, I have begged for the chance to raise my children in a healthy and clean environment. I have screamed for justice, and yet you sit here in front of me as blind and deaf as everyone else. We’re just asking for one simple thing: Make this application public. We deserve a say.

We have trusted you to protect us and Papatuanuku, and by keeping this process private, you have failed us, you have failed me. Oil drilling has no place in Aotearoa. It threatens entire ecosystems, and the fruits of such labour threatens the future of the millions of children in New Zealand and around the world. I want you all to stop and think for a minute about what impacts more oil and gas would have on our already fragile climate. How much more oil and gas will we burn before it is too late? And what happens if OMV keeps finding more and more? Are you going to sit back and allow them to exploit the environment for profit that has no match to the lives affected?

It is time we stop hiding behind the greed and profit. It is time to stand up and tell the truth. As a democratic society, we deserve to know about this oil drilling application. You have no right to hide from us any longer and continue to make decisions about my future without first asking me how I feel. I’ll tell you how I feel. I am angry, I am betrayed, but most of all I am scared. More scared than I can honestly say. I have a lot of time to think over the climate crisis and what that means to me as an 18 year old in 2019.

And to me, it truly feels like a death sentence, a burden to bear for the rest of my life. That is how I feel. OMV’s plans to drill oil feels like a slap in the face, but what hurts more is your willingness to lie down and let them walk over you and me. What hurts more is your inability to even share what is happening behind closed doors with a country who have expressed
immense desire for climate justice and action. What hurts more is that I even have to be here telling you this, because my efforts for the past 10 months were clearly not enough.

Climate change is my generation’s Nuclear Free moment. That is what Jacinda Ardern said. The only difference here is that we are at the edge of the cliff, and time is running out. If we
continue to exploit our planet further, she will retaliate. There are no do overs, no planet B, there is only action, and it must be taken right here, right now. Please, do not let OMV drill for oil off the Otago Coast, do not hide this application from the victims of the climate crisis, and do not sit back and watch us fall over the cliff.

We are at the edge, and we can go one of two ways: back to safety, or right over the edge, falling until we are in over our heads with no way out. The choice is yours. You are holding the lives of everyone today, and for their sake and my own, I hope you care enough to do your job.