Auckland climate strike pushes for community-driven action

March 13, 2023

Auckland climate strike pushes for community-driven action

Organisers laid out five key demands. Photo: Eva Gallot

Thousands across the country took to the streets to protest climate change as part of the Global Climate Strike on March 3.

The Auckland event was organised by School Strike 4 Climate, Protect Pūtiki and Fridays for Future, with many other groups also taking part.

Strikers gathered at the bottom of Queen Street outside Britomart Station where a line-up of speakers addressed the crowd before they marched to Victoria Park.

Organisers laid out five key demands:

  • no exploration or mining of new fossil-fuel resources
  • a lowering of the voting age to 16
  • 30 per cent marine protection by 2025
  • support for regenerative farming
  • e-bike rebates for lower-income families

There were multiple stops along the route as marchers passed a BP petrol station, and the Fonterra and Air New Zealand head offices.

A small group of Fonterra workers huddled by the window and watched the protestors take an extended stop outside, where they voiced their demands for swift government action to curb Aotearoa's leading carbon emitter.

Speeches covered a wide variety of topics, but a common message that underpinned them all was a call for communities to come together to push for more progressive climate action.

Sophie Todd, a member of Fridays for Future, spoke about the dangers of waiting for the perfect solution instead of incremental improvements.

"We need to be speaking about this imperfectly, and acting imperfectly, and figuring out imperfect solutions that might not work 100 per cent off the bat but we keep moving forward."

Xavier Walsh, co-president for Unite Union Tāmaki Makaurau, called out both the Government and the opposition for not doing enough to reel in Aotearoa's biggest polluters.

"So, I say to the Labour and National parties, I can smell the fossil fuels on your breath."

Walsh advocated for a union-led response to climate change to ensure working-class people were treated fairly in a transition to sustainable business practices.

Asked about what role unions could play in addressing climate change, Walsh urged young workers to bring the same energy to advocacy in their workplace.

"We saw so many young people today for the climate. Why not get stuck in at their workplace too?"

TWN spoke to Jan Logie, workplace relations spokesperson and MP for the Green Party, about the importance of unions and allowing democratic processes to play a part in the workplace.

"I do think there is a growing public and political concern about the degree of polarisation that is happening in our communities, and the risk of that being exacerbated through climate crisis is real.

"From the Green Party's perspective, that calls for us to have more intentional and active interventions to foster democracy, and that includes our workplaces."

While strikers advocated for a bottom-up approach to addressing climate change, large corporations, like Air New Zealand, have been implementing a top-down approach by creating a chief sustainability officer position within the company to help implement sustainable business practices.

Logie suggested while these two approaches may look like they oppose each other, they could be complementary if executed properly.

"If we can build that connection and sense of respect through all of our workplaces then our societies and communities will be so much stronger and able to deal with what's in front of us."

However, she warned that without a connection between workers and the executive, the role could further perpetuate the issue of greenwashing among private industries.

Logie and other Green Party members were at the marches in Wellington and New Plymouth.

Also at the Auckland event were Auckland Central MP Chlöe Swarbrick and Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson, who were seen marching and chanting amid the crowd.

While it was a student-led movement, there was a wide variety of age groups that took part.

Todd said they were looking to “up the ante” leading up to the election, with another strike planned for August.

"We have over 10 climate groups collaborating on this one today, but we're aiming to have over 100 next time."

Marches took place across 11 cities around Aotearoa and strikers in Christchurch staged a sit-in at the Christchurch City Council building.

OCD streetwear label now a fulltime job

OCD streetwear label now a fulltime job

Louis Pinker-Meihana March 26, 2023

Music in Parks future undecided after disappointing 2023 season

Music in Parks future undecided after disappointing 2023 season

Mae MacDonald March 24, 2023

Auckland arts organisations up in arms over proposed council cuts

Auckland arts organisations up in arms over proposed council cuts

Vanessa Elley March 24, 2023