Global student climate strikes spread to New Zealand

Some people, probably many people, are getting very insistent that major things are done to combat climate change, believing that the future of the planet is at stake.

It seems a bit ironic given that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said that combating climate change is the most important issue of the current time that urges to do something drastic about it are being made here in New Zealand.

Internationally (Vox) – Playing hooky to save the climate: why students are going on strike

Thousands of young climate change activists around the world have refused to go to school in recent weeks, and more strikes are planned, including a worldwide strike on March 15.

“We are the voiceless future of humanity,” activists wrote in a letter published Friday by The Guardian. “Now we will make our voices heard. On 15 March, we will protest on every continent.”

To date, students in the United KingdomAustralia, France, Germany, Ireland, Uganda, Thailand, Colombia, Poland, and more have skipped a day of school to demand stronger action on climate change from their governments.

New Zealand (The Spinoff) – School kids are going on strike to fight climate change. How will schools react?

Strikes in more than 20 towns and cities around the country are planned for March 15, a Friday, with the Auckland event scheduled to take place in Aotea Square. While some schools are openly facilitating organisation, some schools are treating the impending strikes as unjustifiable absences, and have cracked down on efforts by students trying to organise.

RNZ: Climate change protest on school day divides MPs

Labour and Green party MPs supporting next week’s school strike for action on climate change are being careful not to encourage students to wag classes to protest.

The protest includes a march on Parliament and it’s clear that Labour and Green MPs are supportive of the strike while National Party MPs said it should not be happening on a school day.

Green Party co-leader and climate change minister James Shaw agreed immediately when asked on TVNZ’s Q and A programme on Monday night if students should leave classes to protest next week.

But he told RNZ today he was not urging children to participate in the event.

“In choosing to take time out in order to do this, these students are placing something at risk. That’s actually the point of a strike, you’re placing something at risk and that is an individual choice that people have to make for themselves.”

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said it was up to schools to decide how to handle the strike.

“I want kids to be learning. If taking part in this action is part of the learning process, then there may be some merit in it. If they’re just taking a day off school then actually they’re just punishing themselves,” Mr Hipkins said.

Other Labour ministers were more supportive.

They are supporting aa protest urging them to do more about climate change.

National Party leader Simon Bridges said climate change was an important issue, but the strike should not have been held on a school day.

He said the protest could have been timed to coincide with the upcoming strike by secondary school teachers on 3 April.

National Party education spokesperson Nikki Kaye said government ministers should not be encouraging students to participate.

“I’m a bit concerned that we have got the Minister for Climate Change out there encouraging people to not be at school and that does put parents and principals in a pretty difficult situation,” she said.

Stuff: Students who strike for climate change will be marked as truants, principals say

Schools are threatening to mark students as truants if they strike for climate change, with one principal calling it “wagging” that won’t make a difference.

Thousands of students plan to strike across New Zealand next week as part of a global campaign urging politicians to treat climate change as a crisis, and act now to protect students’ futures from its effects.

Christchurch strike organiser Lucy Gray, 12, said students were striking for their future.

“Teachers, they strike all the time to get what they want and that’s just money. We want our future; I think that should be allowed.”

But Secondary Principals Association president and Pakuranga College principal Michael Williams said students’ impact on climate change would be “probably zero”.

The impact of a day off school on the education of the children is likely to be “probably zero” too.

It’s not just young people rising in protest – Stuff: The planet’s last stand: Why these climate change activists are ready to break the law

In a suit and tie, retired fund manager Charles Drace is not your typical rebel. California-born, he was once a theatre and film actor, with bit parts in the spaghetti Western ‘Once Upon A Time in the West’ and war movie ‘Patton’.

Now, from his neat town house in central Christchurch, the 74-year-old is plotting how to get arrested.

“For years and years now, we’ve been playing nice. And I think one of the things that has been recognised in the last year or so is that it’s not working. We just can’t be nice anymore.”

Drace is a climate activist, a member of the global movement Extinction Rebellion. It began in November, when thousands of protesters paralysed London by disrupting traffic. Since then, it’s caught fire across the globe, with around a million members in 35 countries carrying out acts of civil disobedience.

They’ve glued themselves to buildings and spray painted “frack off” graffiti, closed five major London bridges, swarmed Fashion Week and gone on hunger strike outside Westminster Palace.

In New Zealand, ‘zombies’ have paraded through Wellington airport, held a funeral for Planet Earth in Nelson, and shut off the water supply to Environment Canterbury’s headquarters. Last week, 35 activists banged on the glass windows of BP’s Auckland office, chanting “liar, liar, pants on fire.”

Next month, they’ll join groups across the world in a week of civil disobedience and attention-grabbing stunts.

Will all of these protests be largely like whistling in a hurricane?

Or will the New Zealand government actually take drastic action beyond their rhetoric?

 

 

Climate change linked by Greens to inequality, power, corporations

It’s common to see Greens link climate change and environmental issues with a major reform of the world’s financial and business systems.

They don’t seem to recognise the good that large companies, big money and corporations have done for the world. They have also inflicted significant problems. But is a war on big business the best way to combat climate change?

One of the ways of dealing with climate issues is to develop alternatives. Socialist style governments are unlikely to lead the way or succeed there.

The motives of the Greens are admirable, but the means with which they want to achieve major change is, at best, a huge experiment that is certain to be difficult to achieve smoothly if at all.

 

Green climate refugee policy lacking support, refugees

Green leader James Shaw was keen on a new refugee category for people adversely affected by climate change, but has no support from Labour and no potential refugees.

Green Party policy: Welcoming more refugees

The Green Party will:

  • Create a new humanitarian visa for people displaced by climate change in the Pacific.

Climate change will only make the global refugee crisis worse. We’re committed to providing new homes for some of the people who are forced out of their own communities and countries by rising seas and extreme droughts, particularly in the Pacific.

There was no mention of this policy the Labour-Green confidence and supply agreement.

Stuff:  Humanitarian visa proposed for climate change refugees dead in the water

A proposed “experimental” visa for climate change refugees is dead in the water, with the idea gaining little traction among Government officials and Pacific leaders.

Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced the Government would consider a special visa for Pacific peoples displaced by climate change in October 2017, after a tribunal rejected refugee status for two Tuvalu families.

Shaw, who was overseas and unavailable for comment, told RNZ in October the Government would consider an “experimental” humanitarian visa category as “a piece of work that we intend to do in partnership with the Pacific islands”.

The families argued rising seas would make their lives unsustainable, but climate change is not a recognised ground for refugee status under the UN Refugee Convention.

Minister for Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway said on Friday that Pacific peoples have expressed desire to continue to live in their own countries, and current work is primarily focussed on mitigating the impacts of climate change.

“Responses to the impacts of climate change would likely be considered as part of future discussions on Pacific immigration policies, but there is no specific plan for an ‘experimental visa’ at this stage.”

Not surprisingly, people prefer that problems are prevented or fixed so they can stay in their own countries.

Green Party immigration spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman​ said it was still party policy, but research on the ground showed a visa was likely unsuitable to address climate migration.

“The climate migration issue looks like it’s much broader than us coming up with a visa … Tuvaluans want to continue to be Tuvaluans.

“That became apparent fairly quickly when we started looking into it.”

It looks like the Greens first came up with the policy, then “started looking into it”, research “showed a visa was likely unsuitable to address climate migration” but the climate refugee policy remains.

Perhaps the Greens could do some looking into some of their other policies and see whether they stack up.