Last week marked 10 years of 350 Aotearoa. For our first ever event, 350 young people formed the number ‘350’ with their bodies on parliament lawn, followed by a 350 Climate Action Festival on Wellington waterfront that attracted over 5000 Wellingtonians engaging in climate change solutions.
It’s remarkable to see how far we’ve come in that time. Now, in 2018, it has been another huge year of climate action where it feels our Fossil Free movement is in full swing and accelerating!
We wanted to share a some of those key moments of 2018 here:
In February, we brought some of our key volunteers to the Waitakere Ranges for our annual hui. It was a great opportunity to share skills, strengthen relationships and engage with the broader vision of our climate movement. However, like all good, thriving movements many of us could not have predicted just quite the year we had ahead of us!
In March, we joined our friends and allies from across Aotearoa to oppose the petroleum conference, we led the Opening Ceremony for the Rally for Climate Justice where together we pieced together a giant sunflower to symbolise our message of resistance, as well as the clean, renewable energy future that we are striving for. This was followed by two more days of action, disrupting the oil conference with a blockade, and an action to get Janet the inflatable whale into the conference organised by our friends at Oil Free Wellington and Greenpeace, respectfully.
Just two weeks later, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced an end to offshore oil and gas exploration! This was HUGE. A landmark win that came as a result of years of people like you and me standing up, joining forces, and saying ‘NO’ to oil and gas in Aotearoa. It came as a result of all of us who showed this government that we will hold them to account, and that climate change can’t wait.
In May, we welcomed acclaimed author, climate activist, and founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben to Aotearoa. We had a jam-packed three days with unions, church leaders, climate movement leaders, members of parliament, and enthusiastic crowds at our public events -expressing the urgency and ambition needed to make a fast and just transition to 100% renewable energy a reality.
In June, we had two great wins for the Fossil Free movement. Following our two-year long KiwiSaver divestment campaign, Simplicity announced that it will be fully divesting all of its funds from fossil fuel companies, along with other unethical industries.
Only a week later, Minister of Conservation, Eugenie Sage announced that application for the part of Te Kuha coal mine on conservation land had been declined. This came after 350 Aotearoa, Coal Action Network Aotearoa and Forest and Bird, campaigned for strong opposition to the mine. And we’re keeping a close eye on any future developments, to make sure this mine will not go ahead!
Many of our local volunteer groups have started their own Fossil Free campaigns. Fossil Free Aoraki and 350 Nelson are taking on one of Aotearoa’s biggest consumers of coal: Fonterra, for their use of coal burners to dehydrate milk. 350 Auckland are calling on Auckland Museum to reject sponsorship from the fossil fuel industry. And 350 Wellington are urging Mayor of Wellington, Justin Lester to ban the petroleum conference from council-owned venues. Whether we’re calling on Fonterra, a local council, or Auckland Museum, the message is the same: we need no new fossil fuel projects and a fast, just transition to 100% renewable energy. That’s the direction we’re leading.
Our awesome campaigners at Fossil Free University of Auckland are keeping up their great mahi, with two creative actions this year to keep the pressure on their university to divest from fossil fuels, and have just handed in a report to the University Board on the case for ethical investments.
In September, we participated in a global day of action, ‘Rise for Climate’. Thousands of rallies were held in cities and towns around the world to demand our local leaders commit to building a fossil free world that works for all of us. All across Aotearoa we came together to show what solidarity looks like, to show what it will take to build our fossil free future, and to show world politicians what real climate leadership demands.
A few weeks later, we followed this up with more actions across the country. This time we turned up in high-vis with our own road signs, highlighting the climate-action-roadblocks in our communities. This time, our eyes turned on ANZ. Despite championing the Paris Agreement, since 2015 the bank has invested over $7 billion in the overseas fossil fuel projects.
We followed that action up with the release of our Fossil Free Banks campaign video, and latest banks report -which exposes the relationship between the fossil fuel industry and our banks operating in Aotearoa. The response to our report was amazing, with people already preparing to shift banks. We’re excited to launch into 2019 with so much enthusiasm and support behind our Fossil Free Banks campaign and we’re confident a Fossil Free banking option for Aotearoa is on the horizon!
We’ve also had two very special additions to the 350 Aotearoa whānau: in September our Executive Director, Niamh O’Flynn, welcomed baby Emmet into the world. In November, our board chairperson and 350.org Global Projects Manager, Aaron Packard, became father to baby Gabriel.
As we end the year, the fight goes on for our Fossil Free future. We’re humbled and hopeful in this urgent space to have the support and energy of so many passionate people on this journey with us. To more great moments of climate action and Fossil Free wins in 2019!
Ngā mihi o te tau hou ki a koutou!
Claudia and Erica