350 Aotearoa: New Zealand’s part in the climate movement

Below is a guest blog from Aaron Packard, a star organizer for 350 in New Zealand.  Aaron’s been working hard to build the movement–starting in his hometown and scaling up from there.  Here is his (slightly belated) action report.  The summary: 5000 people + bands + scavenger hunts + climate action = absulutely awesome.  Good on ya Aaron and everyone else who helped!

350 Aotearoa: New Zealand’s part in the climate movement

By Aaron Packard 

The politics of climate change in New Zealand is a polarised shambles.

We’ve had a failed carbon tax and now the Emissions Trading Scheme is under a complete review – before it even got off the ground! For a while the new government was going to do a review of climate science to see whether climate change is real or not. But thankfully they thought better of it.

Some people feel that NZ shouldn’t bother doing anything because our annual emissions of CO2 are just 0.12% of the global total. But when you compare that to our population (4.2 million) as a percentage of the total world population – 0.06%, it shows that New Zealanders emit twice the global average per capita of CO2. And that does not even count methane – the source of half of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions (mainly from burping cows).  

So it was in this context that 350 Aotearoa (Aotearoa is the Māori word for New Zealand) was established in the lead up to the 350 Climate Action Festival  on the Global Day of Action on Climate Change, Dec 6th 2008. About 5000 people came down to the Festival to celebrate action on climate change and to be inspired by the bands, stalls, scavenger hunt, community area, children’s area, frocks on bikes and more. We have just released a couple of short videos from the festival that offer a snapshot of the action. Check them out on our website: www.350.org.nz.  on the Global Day of Action on Climate Change, Dec 6th 2008. About 5000 people came down to the Festival to celebrate action on climate change and to be inspired by the bands, stalls, scavenger hunt, community area, children’s area, frocks on bikes and more. We have just released a couple of short videos from the festival that offer a snapshot of the action. Check them out on our website: www.350.org.nz. 

In the lead up to the festival, we also organised a demonstration of young people outside parliament, where we were met by MPs from all of the major political parties. We laid out a challenge to the government: 

“Let it be known that should the government step out of truth, respect, integrity or aroha (aroha is the Māori word for love), we will be here to hold you to account. And equally so, when the government acts in truth, respect, integrity and aroha, we will be here to show our support.” 

It didn’t take long for the government to step out of truth, respect, integrity and aroha. New Zealand voted at COP 14, in Poznan, to omit the acknowledgment of the ‘rights of indigenous peoples’ from the REDD proposal (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Nations). This is a sad move that reflects the fear of truth that our government and other governments live in – the truth that indigenous peoples around the world have the right to self-determination. We must mobilize our movement to turn fear into respect and love, because as much as climate change is an environmental challenge, it is a social justice challenge; and only by addressing both of these will we reach the dream of <350 with integrity.  

350 Aotearoa is young and growing fast. We have lots of plans underway to ensure that New Zealand plays our part in global action to safeguard our global future. We look forward to meeting lots of you in Copenhagen, but before then, we look forward to hearing of your inspiring stories of climate action. If you want to collaborate with us on anything, you can email us at action4change@gmail.com We’d love to hear from you!

 

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