New Zealanders rally to global People's Climate March call for action
Kiwis marched in their thousands on Saturday to demand the "fossils" in government take action to reduce climate change.
Auckland's march kicked off 35 events being held around the country on Saturday and Sunday.
The gatherings from Whangarei to Invercargill were some of the first in the world in the global People's Climate March events through the weekend in major cities including Tokyo, London and New York.
Rain clouds bursting in Auckland meant many of the 15,000 protesters gathering in Albert Park had to run for the trees. But after a wet start the sun emerged just in time for the march to begin at 11am.
Another 8000 people hit the Christchurch streets and 7000 Wellingtonians marched on Parliament at lunchtime.
Actress Lucy Lawless, who attended the Auckland event, said the government had failed to act against climate change.
"The little boys club are so heavily invested in the status quo it's as if Muldoon was still alive. The solutions of the 20th century are not going to work."
The men in power were "fossils" themselves, she said. "This fight will ramp up," she warned.
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About 60 people attended a picnic and march in New Plymouth as part of an joint initiative between Climate Justice Taranaki and the Green Party. The group descended into the nearby Centre City shopping mall and performed a "human flood flash mob" in the food court.
Over a loudspeaker, prominent Taranaki activist Urs Signer told the crowd rising sea levels was not just an issue for people living in the Pacific, but also one residents of Taranaki needed to take seriously.
As he was talking, others in the group waved around blue tarpaulins, to represent the ocean.
"Climate change is a reality, climate change is real," he said.
In The Square at Palmerston North, Forest and Bird board member Brent Barrett had a simple message for the government, as it prepared to take part in the Paris talks.
"Here the message, John Key. It's the climate, get some guts."
Barrett said the goals New Zealand was taking to the talks were not bold enough and undermined the country's global reputation.
Palmerston North city councillor Chris Teo-Sherrell said it was clear the commitments made by different countries, including New Zealand, weren't enough.
"I find it very hard to feel pride in our government's approach."
Teo-Sherrell also urged those attending to ring their councillors, to make their voices heard.
"If we don't hear from you, we won't know what's important to you."
He talked about the council's initiatives to reduce carbon emissions, but said they were still coming up short.
"The best single thing we could do is improve public transport."
The Government has pledged a 11 per cent cut from 2020 to its overall greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990, but planned to meet that target by purchasing a significant amount of carbon credits. Critics of the plan said carbon credits make no meaningful contribution to reducing global warming.
Forest & Bird advocacy manager Kevin Hackwell said it was not just people who would suffer the consequences of catastrophic climate change. Along with drought and more powerful storms, many already rare species would face extinction, including the Brother's Island Tuatara, he said from Wellington.
With many native trees selecting their seeding years on temperatures, forests would also suffer. "It's not even the potential, it's happening already for our native species, though it's going to get worse."
Eight-year-old Wellington girl Sophia Royster of Upper Hutt marched with her mum, dad and brother "to save the world" in Wellington. "I think it's fun and it's loud."
Law student Sarah Thomson, who has launched a lawsuit against the government for the lack of action against climate change, said the targets were not good enough.
"We want action on climate change. If enough people stand up they will eventually start listening."
Victoria University Students Association Rick Zwaan brought along a spinnaker signed by university students that he had flown at the failed Copenhagen climate talks in 2009.
"We need to remind people we do need to take action, this has been going on for ages."
Zwaan said insufficient action to reduce carbon emissions now would burden young and future generations. "Climate change is obviously a massive issue for young people."