The climate and us, change or be changed

Two Wellington marchers capture the exuberant spirit of the day
Two Wellington marchers capture the exuberant spirit of the day

On a rare, sunny Saturday, November 28, a sizeable group of Ōtaki people joined the throng of about 7,000 at the Wellington People’s Climate March.

At the end of a year of generally bad climate news, the march sparked my hopes that we humans might yet change our ways. We marched in all colours and costumes, to music, chanting and shouting, an exuberant procession of people committed to one big idea—change or be changed, by forces beyond human control.

Travelling the climate-friendly way by train and foot, Transition Town Ōtaki members joined Ōtaki Greens and other groups and individuals from the Kāpiti Coast to march from Civic Square to Parliament grounds, where we heard a range of enlightening speakers, from the Bishop of Wellington Justin Duckworth to former Council of Trade Unions President Helen Kelly.

Throughout New Zealand, there were marches in at least 30 locations, an estimated 15,000 people in Auckland, 3,000 in Christchurch and the entire population of seven in Raoul Island.

New Zealanders were the first to take to the streets, then marches followed round the world in the largest climate mobilisation ever, 785,000 people in 2,300 events round the world.

The march immediately preceded the UN Paris Climate Change talks, where John Key’s address on the opening day, along with our weak emissions targets, won New Zealand the first “Fossil of the Day” award. The Climate Action Network International, a global coalition of climate change NGOs, presents the awards, and gave New Zealand a similar distinction in 2012 at Qatar, with two fossil awards.

One week into the talks at the time of writing, there is optimism that we might yet see an agreement that will require all 150 nations at the talks to do their bit to limit our relentless degradation of the planet.

But, as mere individuals, what can we do? Christmas is just round the corner, and there is no better place to start reducing what we consume and throw away. Kāpiti Council’s on-line publication, the November edition of On-to-it lays out the astounding statistics for Christmas consumption and waste (See www.kapiticoast.govt.nz ). In New Zealand alone, we generate 50,000 tonnes of extra waste during the week after Christmas, equivalent to 14,000 huge containers stacked on top of each other to a height 105 times higher than the Sky Tower.

On-to-it goes on to list many practical ways to change our wasteful ways yet still keep the celebratory feel of Christmas. You can even book the KCDC Communities Co-ordinator to run a free, make-your-own Christmas decoration workshop for a group of your friends and neighbours between December 14 and 19—contact vanessa.crowe@kapiticoast.govt.nz . If it’s too late, make a mental note for next year.

What is Transition Town Ōtaki?

R_F_TTO-logoTTO is a group working towards a sustainable community. It links with Energise Ōtaki, the Sustainable Food Group and the Thursday morning seasonal fruit and vege stall in Main St, as well as the West Tararua Timebank, TTO runs a mulcher club, with a community mulcher available to anyone after a short training. It holds regular gatherings at members’ homes or local venues. Topics are relevant to the theme of sustainability—food, energy, housing, education, climate change. Membership is free and open to all.

For further information check the web-site transitiontown.otaki.org.nz