Written By: - Date published: 9:31 am, November 2nd, 2018 - 35 comments
Categories: climate change, Conservation, disaster, Dr Deborah Russell, Environment, global warming, greens, labour, national, nz first, sustainability - Tags: george monbiot
As pointed out by Ed in Open Mike in the United Kingdom action against climate change is ramping up with George Monbiot urging direct action to be taken.
He was speaking at a rally organised by Extinction Rebellion, a new mass direct-action group modeled on Occupy. From Rising up’s website:
We are in an ecological crisis caused by climate change, pollution and habitat destruction; a mass species extinction on a scale much larger than the one which killed the dinosaurs is underway. Our course is set to societal collapse, the killing of millions, likely billions of people – human extinction is possible. The future is bleak and our children are not safe.
Change to avert the worst of the disaster is still technically and economically possible. The changes won’t be simple but there is nothing more important or worthwhile. It involves creating a world which is less frenetic and more beautiful; making the necessary changes will also create jobs. This is an emergency situation – action is urgent.
Our Government isn’t acting in accordance with what science and history tells us. Therefore our Government is criminally negligent. We have a moral duty to rebel, whatever our politics. Social science shows us that peaceful civil disobedience is an effective way to bring about change. Our lives have meaning and purpose when we follow our conscience and are willing to make sacrifices to protect what we love. We ask others who feel the same way to join our peaceful Rebellion.”
The organisation has some powerful support with 94 signatories from the ranks of academia and politics releasing an open letter supporting the organsation. In an open letter they have said this:
Our government is complicit in ignoring the precautionary principle, and in failing to acknowledge that infinite economic growth on a planet with finite resources is non-viable. Instead, the government irresponsibly promotes rampant consumerism and free-market fundamentalism, and allows greenhouse gas emissions to rise. Earth Overshoot Day (the date when humans have used up more resources from nature than the planet can renew in the entire year) falls ever earlier each year (1 August in 2018).
When a government wilfully abrogates its responsibility to protect its citizens from harm and to secure the future for generations to come, it has failed in its most essential duty of stewardship. The “social contract” has been broken, and it is therefore not only our right, but our moral duty to bypass the government’s inaction and flagrant dereliction of duty, and to rebel to defend life itself.
We therefore declare our support for Extinction Rebellion, launching on 31 October 2018. We fully stand behind the demands for the government to tell the hard truth to its citizens. We call for a Citizens’ Assembly to work with scientists on the basis of the extant evidence and in accordance with the precautionary principle, to urgently develop a credible plan for rapid total decarbonisation of the economy.
Meanwhile in New Zealand the Government is closer to getting the Crown Minerals (Petroleum) Amendment Bill through Parliament. The bill will ban the issuing of new offshore oil drilling exploration permits. The bill has faced staunch opposition from National and the fossil fuel industry but significant support from most submitters even though it is not overly radical. The effects will not be felt for some time.
Deborah Russell summed up the select committee hearings in this speech:
And her summary of the submissions is very apt.
When I look at what Business New Zealand said about the bill, they said “Business New Zealand agrees with the underlying policy objective sought by the 12 April decision, but strongly considers that banning new oil and gas exploration is an unnecessary way to achieve emissions reductions goals.” But if we aren’t going to do something, how can they show they really do support the idea of taking action to mitigate climate change? If not, how, and when? These were just a few of the submissions against the bill.
Chris Norton, however, said “I acknowledge some people and interested parties will feel like they’ve been short-changed. However, this financial loss to a few is nothing compared to the catastrophe that continuing with the exploration and exploitation of our fossil resources would contribute to for everyone.”
Abbie Jury from Tikorangi in Taranaki said she urged members of Parliament “to understand that while gas may burn more cleanly than some other fuels at the point of end-use, there is nothing at all clean or sustainable in the process of getting that gas out of the ground and keeping the gas flowing.” She went on to say “If we do not change our energy sources now, that change will be forced upon us by the probability of catastrophic climate change.”
We examined these submissions initiated of the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. Dinah Hawkins says that the latest IPCC report makes it absolutely clear that we, all of us, must work now to keep fossil fuels in the ground.
Last of all, giving everyone a flavour of all the submissions that were totally in support of the bill, the 85 percent of submissions that were in support of the bill, from Sam Netherclift: “I am 18 and I think it is very unfair that my generation is inheriting a world affected by climate change because of older generations, so making exploration for oil illegal is one step forward in the right direction.”
There is overwhelming support for this bill, and in conclusion I give you the simplest submission of all, of all the many I read: “I support this bill because climate change.”
Good on Russell and the Labour Green NZ First Government for pushing this through. But there is still a sense of inertia that the urgency of our predicament does not warrant. New Zealand’s commitment has improved dramatically but the fundamental move away from consumption led economic growth is not happening quickly enough in my personal opinion.
With only 16 countries having set clear goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions that will allow them to match their ambitious pledges to tackle climate change the outlook is bleak. Maybe it is time for a local branch of Extinction Rebellion.