350 Climate Action Festival
The 350 challenge was launched in style in Aotearoa, New Zealand on 6 December, in Wellington and Auckland. The Wellington 350 Climate Action Festival was the focal point, attracting over 5000 people with live music, community action and food stalls. Over 40 volunteers helped make the day possible, and created a very positive and successful event. "Our three themes of connection, action and celebration were evident on the day - we had people connecting to each other and our environment, people taking and committing to take action, and we had one heck of a good time celebrating action and connection" said event co-organiser Aaron Packard.
In the lead up to the event, the group held a demonstration outside Parliament in an outline of 350 and were met by 12 Members of Parliament from the 4 main parties. "We addressed the new Minister for Climate Change Issues, the Honourable Dr Nick Smith and his Associate Minister, the Hon. Tim Groser, urging the new centre-right government to take effective and urgent action on climate change. We also requested that the government sponsor a youth delegation to the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen next year. The Minister accepted our signed banner (which he is putting up in his office) and is keen to meet with us further about sending the delegation to Copenhagen. However, how this translates into genuine action on climate change remains to be seen".
"350 NZ has built a lot of momentum from the Festival, so we are now reflecting and dreaming of where to from here. We certainly plan on sending a youth delegation to Copenhagen, and I suspect we will have a busy time working with our new government, given that one of its coalition partners (the Act party) are hell bent on ensuring that NZ does nothing on climate change (and are climate change sceptics). As well as working with the government, we want to spark up action at the local level, to send a message loud and clear that the youth movement on climate change in Aotearoa NZ has arrived! Go 350!!" said Packard.
Other highlights of the Festival include:
• Super Shopper Sprint: Wellington’s inaugural race between cars and bikes to the super market and back to Waitangi Park saw a clean sweep victory for the bicycles!;
• 350 Frocks on Bikes: An estimated 200 people donned their frocks and bicycled to parliament, returning to the park at the climax of the festival to share the last song from local band Olmecha Supreme;
• Sustainable Hangi (traditional cooked food): This event was organised by a newly formed group called ‘Natives for Climate Justice’ t who sourced locally produced, and, where possible, organic food for a delicious hangi. The food was then brought onsite, where it was sold in traditional konae (woven flax) rather than plastic or tinfoil.