Protesters demand rapid action on climate change

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More than 100 climate strikers gathered at Parliament to hand over a list of demands for rapid action from the government.

People gathered outside parliament for the School Strike 4 Climate on 26 January, 2021.

People gathered outside Parliament for the School Strike 4 Climate on 26 January. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Various MPs, including minister for climate change James Shaw, were handed the list which detailed six key requests.

School Strike 4 Climate NZ spokesperson Ethan Reille said he was pleased with the turnout but wanted to see rapid change.

The requests range from changes to the school curriculum to protecting New Zealand’s Pacific neighbours and phasing out fossil fuels.

“Part of collating this list of demands, we wanted to use demands that were actually achievable,” Reille said.

“We didn’t want to be unfair.

“The main message we are sending is, we want to see a commitment, and that commitment isn’t just empty words but is backed by action.”

The list of demands includes:

  • Prohibiting the implementation of, and phase out the use of fossil fuels nationwide
  • Investing in a 100 percent renewable energy economy
  • Investing and implementing in a just transition
  • Honouring its (the government’s) responsibility to Pacific Island neighbours
  • Decreased agriculture emissions
  • Invests in climate education

“We know that the cost of inaction is everything. Without a robust response, we will lose our homes, our culture and most importantly our tangata and our whenua,” Reille said.

“While we still have time we must act for the sake of future generations.

“Time is well and truly running out.”

Last year, about 170,000 people took to the streets to protest alongside the group, and Reille said they had more strike action planned for this year.

Shaw said he agreed with every single one.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw responding to the demands from School Strike 4 Climate outside parliament on 26 January, 2021.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw responding to the demands from School Strike 4 Climate outside parliament on 26 January, 2021. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

“You have every right to be angry, I’m angry for 30 years, which is more than most of my life and more than most of yours combined. Governments and businesses have kicked the can down the road,” he said.

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“Now we have run out of road… probably not the greatest metaphor.

“Time is up, this year is the year we’ve got to move from talking about climate change, to actually doing something about climate change.”

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson said it was time to change the system.

“Climate justice is about transforming a system which for generations, and far too long, has concentrated power and wealth for short term profit and gain, only into the hands of a few and not equally shared among everybody.

“That is actually what is at the heart of the pollution of our climate and the separation and the undermining of our communities.”

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