We need urgent action to end our addiction to fossil fuels

Director of ActionStation Laura O’Connell-Rapira’s oral submission to the Environment Committee on proposed changes to the Crown Minerals (Petroleum) Amendment Bill — Wellington, 18 October 2018.

Kia ora members of the Environment Select Committee,

Thank you for the opportunity to present today. I whakapapa to Taranaki through Ngāruahine and Te Āti Awa. Many of my whānau still live in Taranaki, I spent much of my childhood there and it’s a place I hold dear in my heart.

I am also the Director of ActionStation. We are a community campaigning organisation representing over 100,000 New Zealanders who combine the power of the crowd with the power of the cloud to take coordinated action for a fair and flourishing future.

I am here today to urge the government not to allow any new drilling and mining for oil, coal or gas.

I’m going to be honest. I have been trying to work out what to say to you all for the past couple days, but I just keep crying.

Crying because we shouldn’t have to fight our government for our survival.

Crying because I think of all the damage successive Pākehā governments have allowed to happen to our land.

Crying because it feels like my submission is no match for the oil lobbyists and fossil fuel barons who will be doing all they can to protect the extreme wealth they have built on the destruction of our forests, climate and seas.

Crying because when we did our youth wellbeing research earlier this year, a 12 year old girl told me she suffers from high levels of anxiety because of the stress and fear that unaddressed climate change induces in her.

Crying for Koro Taranaki.

Last year Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called climate change our generation’s ‘nuclear free moment’.

Then the government banned new oil drilling at sea and those of us who care deeply about protecting Papatūānuku and making sure we and the other creatures who live on this planet can survive let out a collective sigh of relief.

This week the government broke that promise by renewing a two year permit to drill at sea for an Australian oil company. That’s two years that our damaged and fragile climate cannot afford.

Now there’s a risk the government will ramp up drilling and mining on land to make up for the loss of less drilling at sea.

The government is even looking at the potential to mine underneath Mount Taranaki.

Mount Taranaki, like Whanganui river and Te Urewera forest have been granted legal personhood because of decades and decades of Māori land activism.

BUT, and it’s a big but — the government has always retained the right to drill or mine for oil, gas and coal underneath these natural features, or in the Māori worldview, underneath these ancestors. This is a fundamental flaw in the legislation forced in by the Crown.

I ask members of the committee: What is the point in recognising that our rivers, forests and mountains are living beings with their own mauri (or life force) if you retain the right to try to destroy that mauri?

The most recent IPCC report, and actually every IPCC report before that has called for urgent action to end fossil fuels before our collective failure to act leaves us with a world that we can no longer recognise.

And no amount of vegan meals, short showers or bike rides will fix this. We need the government — that’s you — to step up and curb the ridiculous power afforded to fossil fuel corporations that make money by destroying our life support system.

We urgently need to stop punching holes in our planet if we want to keep living on it.

It is for that reason, I ask the committee to note that the 100,000+ membership of ActionStation:

  • Fully support no new fossil fuel prospecting, exploration, and mining permits anywhere offshore.
  • We ask for clear commitments to a timeline for phasing out the existing permits.
  • We ask for a ban on the extension of all petroleum mining permits, on and offshore, as they reach their expiry dates.
  • We do not support any new fossil fuel prospecting, exploration, and mining permits on land in Taranaki or anywhere else in Aotearoa.
  • We object to new or existing permit holders having any access to conservation land.
  • We ask that the ‘Anadarko Amendment’ — a cynical piece of law put in place to silence protectors of our planet — be repealed.

I wish I could round this submission off with some hopeful message, but the truth is I don’t have a lot of hope this morning. I only have mamae (deep pain, hurt).

Mamae that 178 years since the signing of Tiriti o Waitangi we STILL have to fight the government to stop destroying our land, mauri and culture.

I appeal to you today to do the right thing and stop the destruction of our planet.

Thanks for your time. Ngā mihi ki a koutou.

Do you support a ban on all new onshore and offshore oil and gas exploration? Send an email to the Energy Minister Megan Woods today to call for real action on a clean energy future.

We work together to create a society where people and planet are more important than profit and Te Tiriti o Waitangi is honoured.

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