Moves to establish environmental action group

Oamaru woman Trish Shirley with the logo she created called 'One Last Bite' for her new Oamaru...
Oamaru woman Trish Shirley with the logo she created called 'One Last Bite' for her new Oamaru-based environmental action group, Extinction Rebellion Waitaki. Photo: Daniel Birchfield
An Oamaru woman is working to establish an environmental action group in the town, inspired by a London-based group that goes by the name Extinction Rebellion.

The group describes itself as a global network that is co-ordinating a "non-violent rebellion against government inaction in response to the climate change emergency and the mass extinction of life we are now witnessing".

Trish Shirley is in the initial stages of establishing Extinction Rebellion Waitaki, which she hoped would be able to attract enough members to take action against climate change and other environmental issues.

"Climate change is a severe challenge that we basically have to do something about ... anyone that is not freaked about this they should be."

Her major concerns were carbon dioxide and methane emissions, and water quality.

Mrs Shirley, a prominent Oamaru artist who created the group's logo, said she was inspired by the stand taken by secondary school pupils when they took strike action aimed at sending a message to New Zealand politicians about the urgency of climate action.

In Oamaru, about 100 pupils from St Kevin's College, Waitaki Boys' High School, and Waitaki Girls' High School gathered to ask questions of Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean and Waitaki deputy mayor Melanie Tavendale, before making their own pledges to combat rising emissions and climate change.

"The reason I started it ... I felt a bit guilty because the school kids were having their strike and I thought `I should be doing something about this'. The kids are actually showing us up, they're getting out there and doing it."

She had created a Facebook page and hoped to encourage like-minded people who were willing to share ideas about what action they could take in Oamaru, that would "depend on who joins".

Mrs Shirley said the aim was to start with waste minimisation initiatives, and then go on to petition the Waitaki District Council and Mrs Dean about its concerns.

"I would like to see the council declare a climate emergency. That in itself won't change anything, but it will change the language we use, say they have got an emergency and look at the response."

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