More than 200 protesters converged on New Zealand’s largest oil industry conference at dawn today, blockading its entrances as part of a Greenpeace-organised demonstration of peaceful civil disobedience.
It is the first time in New Zealand that Greenpeace has invited the general public to take civil disobedience action en masse.
Climate campaigner Steve Abel said today that despite years of public opposition and a failure to find any deep sea oil, Prime Minister John Key’s government had continued to invest in the drilling that threatened New Zealand communities, coastlines and climate.
The protest comes just days after the announcement that February 2016 was the hottest month in history.
“We have a government and an oil industry hell-bent on drilling for the very oil that must stay in the ground if we’re going to avoid climate change causing human catastrophe,” said Abel.
Hundreds of people planned to sit outside the main entrances of SkyCity in Auckland, where the 2016 Petroleum New Zealand Conference is being held.
Protesters are expected to include Anglican ministers, nurses, teachers and members of the Tuvaluan community, whose Islands are on the frontline of sea-level rise.
Inside the conference, Minister of Energy and Resources Simon Bridges is expected to announce the 2016 “Block Offers” – the areas of New Zealand’s ocean that will be on the market for oil exploration this year.
Last year, almost 430,000 sq km were opened up for potential drilling.