As 2020 draws to a close, we want to say a big thank you for the important role you play in our 350 Aotearoa community. Each of you is part of 350 Aotearoa in your own unique way, and together we make up a movement that takes on some of our biggest corporations that are blocking action on climate action – and we win!

2020 has brought some of our greatest challenges yet. Together we’ve experienced a global pandemic, seen wildfires, floods, typhoons, and heatwaves impact communities across the globe, and witnessed political division, misinformation, and the rise of white supremacy. This year has highlighted that to truly tackle the climate crisis, we must address and disrupt systemic racism, colonial extraction and injustice at every level.

Here in Aotearoa, we’ve continued to be a source of hope for communities battling science-denying leaders and challenging political contexts. We still have a long way to go to create a fairer, more sustainable Aotearoa but the progress we’re making together is having a big impact. Here’s just some of what we’ve achieved together in 2020:

  • We kicked off the year by sending thousands of letters and hundreds of tweets to Hon Kris Faafoi and Hon Grant Robertson as they reviewed the default KiwiSaver settings. In early March, the government responded to our pressure and announced a new standard for our Kiwisaver funds, requiring that all default schemes must be fossil free funds by 2021.
  • During March we organised letter-writing events across Aotearoa and sent hundreds of hand-written letters to the CEO of Kiwibank Steve Jurkovich, calling for Kiwibank to announce a fossil free policy.
  • Towards the end of March we welcomed Siri Andersen to our staff team as Co-Director!
  • As Aotearoa moved into lockdown, we surveyed our supporters and campaigners about our campaign priorities. There was overwhelming support to pivot our focus and campaign for a Just Recovery from COVID-19 to ensure that our government’s spending on our economic recovery supports our transition to a more just, low-carbon future.
  • In April we launched our Just Recovery Principles and had thousands of people sign in support, including over 10% new supporters.
  • In early June, before the RMA Fast Track Bill was released, over 1000 of us wrote letters to Hon David Parker, calling on him to centre our Principles for a Just Recovery in the draft Bill. When the Bill was released, we worked alongside Coal Action Network Aotearoa & Oil Change International on a submission guide to call for key amendments, including making climate change impacts a bottom-line consideration for projects. Over 100 people used our guide to make submissions to the Environment Select Committee and together we made up nearly 20% of public submissions! The Select Committee report came back without meaningful changes to address our concerns with the Bill, so we tweeted and sent emails to the Environment Select Committee chair. We sent so many effective messages to Hon Duncan Webb that he acknowledged our emails in Parliament!
  • Towards the end of June, we decided to bring some focus back to our divestment campaigning work. We ran a series of online training hui for our volunteer campaigners and developed the strategy for our campaign targeting ACC to divest from fossil fuels.
  • In July we won our multi-year campaign calling for Kiwibank to cut its ties with coal, oil, and gas companies – making it the first bank in Aotearoa to commit to never invest in or lend to coal, oil, and gas companies.
  • We also formed a coalition with our friends at Coal Action Network Aotearoa, Parents for Climate Aotearoa, School Strike 4 Climate, and others to plan a campaign to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuel boilers in our schools, hospitals, universities and prisons.
  • In August we released an updated version of our Banks Table, providing essential information to expose the financial ties between our banks in Aotearoa and the fossil fuel industry. Thanks to all of you who amplified the release – over 59,000 people saw it on social media alone!
  • In September we launched our campaign to call on ACC to stop investing our public money in coal, oil, and gas companies. Hundreds of people signed our online petition in support.
  • In October we joined the Stop the Minerals Forum Coalition in Kirikiriroa. When the forum was cancelled due to risk of protest, we pivoted our focus to target Bathurst, the major sponsor of the minerals forum and history of breaching resource consents. We joined 30 activists to shut down Bathurst’s Rotowaro coal mine – to send a clear message that the mining and fossil fuel industries need a clear plan to rapidly stop business as usual and support their workers to transition into regenerative, low-carbon jobs.
  • We also launched a campaign with Go Eco to call on Waikato Regional Council to divest from coal, oil, and gas companies.
  • As the new government formed, we sent an open letter calling for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to lead the new government in immediately committing to transition all state sector buildings from fossil fuel boilers.
  • In November and December we ramped up our energy in the ACC Go Fossil Free campaign, with a week of action across Aotearoa. From Auckland to Invercargill, we came together to send a clear message that ACC must stop investing our public funds in climate-wrecking fossil fuel companies. The actions were a fantastic success, with dozens of people attending our events and putting their power behind our call for ACC to go fossil free.

It’s amazing what we are capable of when we use our collective power to call for change. Together we are having tangible impacts on the fossil fuel industry’s social licence, cutting off the finance that enables new fossil fuel projects to go ahead, and we’re holding our government to account to ensure that our recovery from COVID-19 sets us on course towards a just, sustainable and equitable future for people and the planet.

Let’s build from our momentum this year to make 2021 a year full of empowering campaigns for ambitious climate action in Aotearoa, that deepen our commitment to climate justice and send ripples of impact to inspire climate action internationally.