Petroleum Conference: why are Christians planning to protest?

Petroleum Conference: why are Christians planning to protest?

With climate change being one of the key diocesan themes approved at last year’s Synod, we asked Diocesan Advocacy Enabler to tell us more about the Petroleum Conference in Wellington at the end of March, how this links to climate change, and why Anglican Advocacy Wellington is planning Christian protest action at the conference.

Kate tells us that the conference is an annual gathering of petroleum companies, academics and government. New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals, a government department, is a foundation partner of the conference.  The conference website describes it as an opportunity to “celebrate” the country’s petroleum industry, saying that “New Zealand’s oil and gas sector is poised for action and ready for growth – exploration activity is progressing and there is genuine excitement about the opportunities available and the development underway.”

Kate tells us: “for the past few years, the Energy Minister has used this conference to announce block offers: NEW areas of New Zealand land and sea that they will offer for exploration for oil and gas.”  In last year’s announcement by then-Minister of Energy, Judith Collins, the government offered 481,735 square kilometres of New Zealand land and sea for petroleum company tenders.  You can watch her announcement here – fast forward to 12:36.

“Despite the Prime Minister declaring that climate change is this generation’s nuclear-free moment, our new government has not ruled out further offers of land and sea to the petroleum industry for exploration,” Kate says.  “Exploring for new oil and gas is the first step towards extracting it and burning it, and that causes carbon emissions we cannot afford. When New Zealand signed the Paris Agreement, we agreed to play our part in reducing global emissions. To do this we can’t burn existing fossil fuels, let alone mine for more.

Kate explains that further oil and gas exploration is an important topic, on which Christians should make themselves heard.  “Mitigating climate change is essential for loving our global neighbours, caring for creation, promoting peace and stewarding our resources for future generations. Our climate is already changing, causing more storms, fires and droughts. It is our poorest global neighbours who will suffer most.”

Our Diocese is committed to helping mitigate climate change, which is why we have divested from fossil fuels, been active planting trees, and set up the Climate Catalysts Network to support action in parishes. “Joining the call to end new oil and gas exploration is the next step,” says Kate, “and there are plenty of ways for Christians to do so.”

How to get involved:

On the 26th and 27th of March, multiple groups will demonstrate their opposition to the Petroleum Conference. Join other Christians in any of the following actions:

1) Write to Hon Dr Megan Woods, Energy Minister, asking her to rule out any new oil and gas exploration in New Zealand. Here is her email address: m.woods@ministers.govt.nz

b Join the opening ceremony: At lunchtime on Monday the 26th of March, be part of a crowd to hear speeches, music and do some chalk art. Our aim is to show the variety of people who want an end to new oil and gas. 12:15pm, meet at Frank Kitts Park. Follow the Facebook event for updates. Children welcome.

2) Pray: On Tuesday the 27th, from 8am to 3pm – Anglicans will set up an arty prayer/reflection space outside the conference venue. Sign up to be involved.​

3) Join the Reconciliation Space: On Tuesday the 27th, from 8am to 3pm – Anglicans will create a ‘reconciliation/confession’ space. In one-on-one conversations, we’ll invite strangers to hear us say sorry for the Church’s role in harming the environment, and invite them to share their own ‘sorry’ if they wish. Sign up to be involved.​

4) Be a demonstrator: On Tuesday the 27th, some Christians will sit peacefully alongside other groups’ protests and hold signs with our messages. NOTE – other groups’ protest styles may involve shouting and being physically moved by the police. Consider whether you feel comfortable being nearby this. Sign up to be involved.​

Already, members of the diocese are preparing to be involved, with St Peter’s on Willis holding an information session last week (click here to watch the video) and a group of youth from All Saints Palmerston North preparing posters in advance of attending the protest in a couple of weeks.

If you want to be involved, whether or not you can attend the protest, contact Kate on kate@wn.ang.org.nz, 022 315 6499 or fill in this form.

You can also sign up for regular updates from Anglican Advocacy Wellington here, or follow our Anglican Advocacy Facebook page here.