Oil companies get caught spying on NZ children and the story sinks quickly

Greta Thunberg cartoon
School Strike 4 Climate poster girl Greta Thunberg warns governments. Cartoon: Malcolm Evans/The Daily Blog

COMMENT: By Martyn Bradbury

Less than 24 hours after New Zealand investigative journalist Nicky Hager’s latest extraordinary story of how oil companies have been spying on children and it has disappeared without trace elsewhere.

School children from the group School Strike 4 Climate joined a peaceful protest against the oil-exploration company OMV in New Plymouth a year ago, only weeks after unprecedented numbers joined their 27 September school strike marches around New Zealand.

Public concern about climate change had never been so great. These were peaceful, democratic protests.

But a two-year investigation found that they and other climate change groups were targets of the private investigation firm Thompson and Clark, paid by clients from the oil and gas industry.

The investigation revealed that a major focus of Thompson and Clark in 2019 and 2020 – years of storms, floods, forest fires and marching school children – was monitoring and helping to counter citizen groups concerned about climate change.

Thompson and Clark’s clients included a range of large greenhouse gas emitting industries, including many of the oil and gas exploration and drilling companies in New Zealand and the industry lobby group, the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ).

It has targeted climate change campaigners belonging to School Strike 4 Climate, Greenpeace, Extinction Rebellion and local Oil Free groups.

Company insiders
Information about Thompson and Clark’s clients and anti-environmental activities was provided confidentially by company insiders who say they disapprove of the private investigation company.

Operations against these groups were run by Thompson and Clark’s collection manager, a former long-term New Zealand Security Intelligence Service officer, as revealed by Radio New Zealand.

The officer, known only as Gerry, moved to Thompson and Clark 10 years ago, after 30 years with the NZSIS.

Investigative journalist Nicky Hager speaks to RNZ Morning Report about the probe findings. Video: RNZ

When oil companies are spying on school children protesting against global warming something has gone horribly, horribly wrong in society.

When just 100 companies are responsible for 71 percent of global emissions, and when oil corporations knew about and hid climate change as far back as the 1990s we must acknowledge that those who have created and fostered the economic model that has allowed for this damage must be the first to pay for the adaptation funding.

Oil companies must be sued for the damage they have caused the way tobacco companies were sued over cancer.

That money needs to help fund the adaption.

Watching the oil industry respond by hiring corporate spies who are using former SIS officers to spy on school children protesting against climate change is all the proof you ever needed to know how truly spiteful and evil these oil companies truly are, so if you are having some internal dialogue about their rights, don’t!

Martyn Bradbury is editor of The Daily Blog. This article is republished with permission.

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