Bridges was meeting with dirty capitalist oil delegates to offer them blocks of pristine NZ ocean for dangerous, environment-destroying deep sea oil drilling. The protest, which was organised by Greenpeace, had groups of protesters blocking entrances to the Sky City complex from 7am. They successfully kept most of the oil delegates out for almost 2 hours - but not without a struggle.
One group of protesters who went inside the complex were arrested, but no charges were laid. At one point while protestors sat blocking an entrance, they got walked on by oil delegates as they tried to enter the building. One Greenpeace organiser entered into a 20-minute public debate with an oil delegate whilst he was stuck waiting on the footpath as his entrance of choice was blocked.
Media were all over interviewing bystanders and protesters alike. The largest group of protesters were gathered at the main entrance to the casino next to the Sky Tower; they included Greenpeace executive director Russel Norman as well as veteran environmentalist and former Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons.
At approximately 10am, large numbers of police confronted the protesters, dragging and moving them as best they could from the main entrance, all while the protestors were singing loudly, “people gonna rise the water, climate action now….”
It was a successful yet very restricting protest which finished just before 11am. Greenpeace had a very strong kaupapa of no chanting, swearing or banners - and they even tried to go as far as enforcing a dress code. The protesters were of a wide range of ages, from teenagers to the elderly - though not very ethnically diverse, with pakeha making up about 95% of them.
Even if the protest had made a far more dramatic impact - along the lines of persuading the government to stop investing in fossil fuels, start massive investment in clean renewable energy, offer subsidies for electric vehicles etc – such measures would only be the very smallest of beginnings. We need to start investing more hugely in carbon capture, re-foresting our lands, and cleaning our oceans, to name just a few things. The last time carbon in the atmosphere was at 400 parts per million, human beings didn’t exist. We’ve already pushed it too far.
As socialists, environmentalists and citizens of the earth, we must continue to push ever more aggressively for our governments to start acting in the interests of the planet and the people, and to start putting the environment before greed. Capitalists need the environment as much as everyone else to exist on our one and only planet earth. A great quote of recent times, “try counting your money when you can’t breathe” couldn’t be more valid. But ultimately capitalism, with its weak and corrupt parliamentary system and politicians who act in the interests of big business, will only ever get us modest improvements. There’s never been a better time for a socialist revolution than now.
Wayne Baker SA.