News from the UC Sustainability Office

Christchurch gears up for biggest climate march ever

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As the world anticipates the incredibly important United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris this November, people around the world are busy organising a massive worldwide climate march for the weekend of the 28th and 29th of November.

Hands across sand New Brighton May 14 pic

“Hands across sand” New Brighton Climate Action 2014

Here in Christchurch the march will take place on the Saturday the 28th of November (12:30 – 3.30 pm, Victoria Square, Christchurch). We spoke to Torfrida Wainwright who is involved in organising, what is gearing up to be, Christchurch’ biggest climate march ever.

Hi Tor, who is organising this march? A group of organisations and individuals concerned about climate change, coordinated by 350 Christchurch. 350 Christchurch has been active since 2009, making people aware of the scientific facts behind climate change and the need to reduce carbon levels to 350 parts per million if we are to keep global warming within the 2 degree safety level.

The group that is meeting to organise the march includes people from 350Chch, Forest & Bird, Sustainable Otautahi Christchurch, unions and others. Groups and individuals are joining this team all the time (like the Muse community choirs or Frocks on Bikes) as we get closer to the 28th of November.

Why are you organising this march? What do you hope to achieve?

  1. To show the government that the people of NZ want them to take a stronger stand on climate change than they have so far shown. Politicians follow, they rarely lead, and we must show them that we urgently want them to develop and implement a national plan for reducing carbon emissions to safe levels.
  2. To stand in solidarity with all the other Peoples Climate Marches being held around the world on that same weekend – we will see a global mobilisation on the 28th and 29th of November. Climate change has no national borders, people around the world all want real climate action NOW.

 

A lot of things are happening in the build up to the main march in November – around NZ there are talks, film evenings, market stalls and petitions being organised by a wide variety of groups and individuals. So keep an eye out for those!

350 on the New Brighton pier

So why is it so important to take action now? Scientists are telling us that the planet is very near the point of no return, locking in disastrous global warming of many degrees. Governments and business have not heeded this message. Urgent action can and must be taken NOW to reduce carbon emissions through shifting investment out of fossil fuels (coal & oil with their increasingly extreme & risky extraction) into renewable energy sources.

Why are marches such a powerful tool? Because they are fun! People often get a feeling of exhilaration walking alongside others who share the same concerns. For Chch we are planning a family-friendly festive format, with lots of music, people in costume, walking/biking/scootering in their groups.

To know that hundreds of thousands of people around the world are also in the streets for the same reason at the same time sends a powerful message to the people taking part, to those watching and to the decision-makers that a huge number of people want real climate action NOW and are willing to come out onto the streets to say so.

How is the march related to the UN Climate Conference in Paris? The UN Climate Conference (COP21) in Paris is the focus for the November march, which is being held in the weekend before the Paris Climate talks. (Ed. What the COP21 in Paris aims to achieve is a legally binding and universal agreement on climate action, from all the nations of the world.)

However, 350.org is also looking beyond the march. If negotiations are not working, we plan to send a stronger message to politicians as part of an international day of action, on the last day of talks: http://350.org/d12/ Plus there are other ways we can take strong action for the climate, that don’t rely on politicians. Like making sure your bank isn’t invested in big oil and coal companies. You can find about how to bank fossil-free, here:  http://350.org.nz/our-work/gofossilfree/fossil-free-banks/

Finally, if people want to get involved, either by joining in with the march or by helping out in the organisation, what can they do? People who want to get involved can:

  1. Come along on the 28th of November, at 12.30 – 3.30 pm (Victoria square) as an individual – you don’t need to register but if you “pledge to march” here, you’ll be kept in the loop as to what is happening and where. You can also indicate there if you want to volunteer.
  1. Get a group of friends together, decide on a message/dress-up them and register with the climate parade to come along as a group n the 28th of November. You will then lead the march! You can register at any of these: http://www.peoplesclimatemarch.org.nz/christchurch_people_s_climate_march or
    https://www.facebook.com/ChchClimateMarch?fref=ts or 350christchurch@gmail.com
  1. Come along to the planning meetings – most Tuesdays 7pm at the WEA, 59 Gloucester St (opposite the big Art Gallery).  All welcome, there are lots of jobs to be done, now and right up to the day!
  1. Contact us at 350christchurch@gmail.com with other ideas you may have, either for the day or around the time of the march/parade. E.g. one woman is planning a wheelchair hikoi to Wellington and could do with a support person. There are a thousand ways of publicising the Peoples Climate March/Parade – let your imagination run wild!

 

Thanks Tor, and good luck with the preparations!

Details march: November 28, 2015 at 12:30pm – 3:30pm, Victoria Square, Christchurch

For more information on the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, check here. For more information on 350 Aotearoa, check here. For more information on what kind of climate action is being taken at UC, see for instance https://www.facebook.com/groups/canterburyunifossilfree/ or check out an earlier Q&A with UC’s Nick (from Canterbury Fossil Free) here

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Author: Puck Algera - UC Sustainability Office

Puck worked at the Sustainability Office at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. As the Sustainability Projects Coordinator, she kept busy with student and staff engagement, providing strategic input and advice and organising sustainability-focused events.

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