The newly formed Extinction Rebellion says that with the world facing a environmental catastrophe, business as usual is no longer an option.
THE EMERGENCE of what will likely become New Zealand's 'new left', through groups like Organise Aotearoa, has been partly driven by a increasing frustration with an old left that, time after time, has proven its bark is worse than its bite. When the going has got tough an old left has promptly waddled in behind a right wing Labour Party that continues to pursue neoliberal polices.
It could also be said that the emergence of Extinction Rebellion in New Zealand has occurred at a time when the kind of mainstream environmentalism that the Green Party represents has demonstrated not only an unwillingness to meaningfully tackle the status quo but has positively embraced it. While the planet gets increasingly warmer (regardless of what Donald Trump says), while the icecaps are melting, while wildfires rage in California and Australia and hurricanes are more extreme and more frequent than previously, the New Zealand Green Party sits on its hands and continues to be a docile parliamentary partner of the Labour-led coalition goernment.
The 'progressive' voice of the Green Party, Marama Davidson, appears more interested in getting embroiled in issues surrounding identity politics. She, like her fellow Green MPs, has failed to call out this Government for its hopelessly inadequate response to climate change.
Extinction Rebellion was formed in London earlier this month and has migrated to countries around the world, including New Zealand. Extinction Rebellion says that such is the threat of extinction it is time for rebellion. It is a time for direct action. On Saturday over a 2,000 activists blocked several roads near Parliament Square. in London. Some two dozen people were arrested. It followed similar events last weekend, when 82 people were arrested following staged sit-ins on five bridges crossing the Thames.
"People are no longer prepared to sit back and watch our politicians and corporations drive us off the cliff of ecological destruction," organizer Gail Bradbrook told The Guardian. "This is an emergency situation and it needs an emergency response. Business as usual is no longer an option.”
"The disruption we are causing today is nothing to the destruction that our governments are unleashing by not taking serious steps to stop the ecological crisis," said a 28-year-old demonstrator. "I have never been to prison before but I feel I have to try and do something."
Extinction Rebellion NZ also says that business as usual is an inadequate response to the environmental catastrophe that threatens us.
The formation of Extinction Rebellion in New Zealand comes at a time when 150 academics from around New Zealand have put their names to a strongly-worded open letter to the Government demanding bold and urgent action to tackle climate change.
The letter says that the Labour-led-led Government has failed to adequately respond to the recent report Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which says we have, perhaps, twelve years to prevent an environmental catastrophe from which they will be no coming back from.
“There’s a big gap between the severity of the warnings from the world’s most authoritative scientific body on climate change and the actions of our government. They need to be honest with us about the risks we’re facing and act accordingly” said senior lecturer in education Cordelia Lockett, who wrote and coordinated the letter.
While the academics don't go as far as to say that system change is the only coherent response to climate change, they do say that there must be “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”.
The Government has not responded to the letter.
Extinction Rebellion Aotearoa can be contacted via its Facebook page.