The political establishment and the mainstream media have been quick to condemn the spraying in red paint of several offices of Labour cabinet ministers as 'vandalism'. But it is a rational response to the insanity of the Labour Government acknowledging that there is a climate crisis but refusing to do anything meaningful about it.
THE SPRAYING in red paint of the electorate offices of five cabinet ministers by environmental activists has been inevitably and quickly condemned by the Government itself. Although it was Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who in 2017 (in)famously said that climate change was the 'nuclear free moment of her generation', it was left to Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson to front up for a news story which an already under-pressure Jacinda Ardern could not possibly extract any positive spin from.
Lectured Robertson: 'Everyone has the right to protest, but this kid of vandalism is extremely disappointing, and frankly alienates people from the important cause of climate change'.
In the same week that Climate Change Minister James Shaw was boasting what a 'phenomenally' good year he and the Green party had enjoyed, the message of the protesters to the Government was blunt: 'Our message to them is your inaction on climate change is criminal negligence and the blood of future generations is on your hands. We're demanding that the Government stick to its promises. Step up, no more talk, actually reduce emissions'.
This protest was obviously inspired by similar protests that have occurred overseas this year. Recent direct action protests have included spraying paint on car showrooms, luxury department stores and oil lobbyists’ headquarters. Scientists have occupied a UK car plant and activists have scaled suspension bridges and blocked roads.
The standard response from establishment politicians like Grant Robertson is that such forms of direct action merely antagonise people who are otherwise supportive of the fight against climate change.
But Robertson deliberately and cynically misses the point. This protest is a visible sign of the growing frustration and anger with the failure of the Labour Government and the political establishment to take the climate crisis seriously and with anything approaching urgency. That anger and frustration can be traced back to at least 2018 when 180,000 New Zealanders demonstrated throughout the land demanding more urgent action on climate change and through the School Strike for Climate Change demonstrations where some of the young people were carrying placards calling for 'system change not climate change'.
Yet the Labour Government - and the leadership of the Green Party - continue to think that minor policy tweaks will be enough to avert environmental disaster. But it was only last year that Swedish activist Greta Thunberg said: 'It's funny that people believe Jacinda Ardern and people like that are climate leaders. That just tells you how little people know about the climate crisis. Obviously the emissions haven't fallen. It goes without saying that these people are not doing anything.'
At the Climate Change and Business Conference in September this year James Shaw boasted that the Government had 'achieved a heck of a lot in the last five years'.
Civil disobedience is a rational response to the inaction that continues to be the default position of governing political elites and which is largely supported by the mainstream media. It is rational response to the insanity of a government acknowledgement of a looming climate catastrophe but a refusal to do anything meaningful about it.
Much of the scientific community around the world have also called for direct action in the face of government inaction. In a recent issue of the Nature Climate Change journal the five authors, all climate scientists, commented:
'The widespread notion that sober presentation of evidence by an ‘honest broker’ to those with power will accomplish the best interests of populations is itself not a neutral perspective on the world; it is instead conveniently unthreatening to the status quo and often rather naive.
'In addition to documenting the climate crisis in ever greater detail, we are obliged to consider how we might act in new ways to help bring about a necessary and urgent transformation.
'In the meantime, we have long since arrived at the point at which civil disobedience by scientists has become justified.'
While Grant Robertson might condemn the 'vandalism' of protesters, the real vandalism is coming from the Labour Government - and governments around the world - who continue to make placatory noises about tackling climate change while doing nothing meaningful to reverse the collision course humanity is on with the planet.