Climate protests hit the streets around NZ

By Jessica Tyson
Environment protest. Source: File

Activists are set to protest in seven centres around Aotearoa today to raise awareness of climate and ecological collapse.

The Extinction Rebellion movement (XR) will protest in Auckland, Thames, Tauranga, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin.

It comes following the Ministry for the Environment’s release of their Environment Aotearoa report this week.

The report details widespread biodiversity loss, the risk of further species extinction and the threat of climate breakdown. It shows that almost 4,000 of New Zealand native species are threatened or at risk of extinction.

XR spokesperson Rowan Brooks says the report underplays the global climate change crisis.

"Scientists agree we are witnessing the sixth mass extinction. Without drastic action, we are heading towards an unrecognisable planet and widespread misery."

Brooks says the irreversible melting of polar ice caps and devastating flooding is of particular concern to Aotearoa.

"Extinction Rebellion will do everything we can to prevent the bleak future even Government departments are painting. Our only hope is action, and that will increasingly require arrests.”

London police have arrested over 400 XR members as a part of the groups international week of rebellion, he says.

Last year, the United Nations said the world has 11 years to take action to limit climate chaos and reduce the risk of extreme heat, drought, flooding and poverty, says Brooks.

Environment Aotearoa report. Source: File

The report

Chief executive of the Ministry of the Environment Vicky Robertson says, "It's pretty grim reading so I think that was the thing that struck me.  What this report shows is that actually there are some things in here we need to take action on immediately.

"I'm actually hoping that this report will be used by all New Zealanders [to] be informed...particularly New Zealanders in the urban areas, to be aware of the issues and the impact that we have in the cities, as much as farmers, who are actually very aware of the impact they're having."

Forest and Bird have grave concerns, the report states starkly what they already know about the country's environmental issues.  

Chief executive Kevin Hague spoke about enormous effort needed to bring a native species back from the brink of extinction,

"It is not easy at all," says Hague, "They're threatened by destruction of habitat, they're threatened by invasive alien predators, they're threatened by climate change.

"And so, [protecting] a species like kākapo has involved millions and millions of dollars and an enormous contribution of people power. A ctually a synthesis of the Māori view of sustainable use of the environment and of Pākehā conservation traditions is going to be essential...so Forest and Bird are certainly looking for partnerships with iwi."