New Zealanders are getting hammered: Cyclone Gabrielle – and flood after flood – are hitting communities, faster and faster and harder and harder. There’s no other way to say it: scientists have told us for decades this would happen, and now it’s here. It’s heartbreaking. This damage was avoidable, and it’s clear who’s at fault – those large emitters who have delayed and funded climate denial and lobbied against climate action. Over 200,000 people lost power from Gabrielle – and some people are still without electricity, weeks on.

One of those to blame for this chaos are the large gentailers (generator-retailers). The five gentailers are like a cartel; spilling energy to keep power prices high and generally doing everything they can to continue generating billions of dollars of excess dividends for their shareholders.

This gentailer cartel has worked to keep us dependent on them for our power – and now the impact of this dependency is clear for all to see. It doesn’t have to be this way. Homegrown, local energy networks would have been more resilient to the disruptions of Cyclone Gabrielle, and impacted communities could have had power when they needed it most. Not only does distributed homegrown energy enable communities to ride out big grid outages – they also produce far less of those climate-killing emissions that are behind the increasing number and severity of extreme weather events.

Community energy is critical for a just and equitable transition to renewable electricity and for tackling energy hardship. Together, we can make it morally and politically impossible for the cartel of five big power generators to continue making billions of dollars at profit at the expense of our communities and our planet. As the climate crisis escalates, there is no option other than to come together and fight for the cleaner, resilient, more equitable Aotearoa that we know is 100% possible. Join us.

Adam Currie