Group takes action to send climate change message

''We've got to start now." That's the belief of Extinction Rebellion Queenstown Lakes founder Anna Simmonds in regard to action needed to limit climate change.

Early on Wednesday, Ms Simmonds and a half dozen other group members erected a large sign in front of the tree that grows in Lake Wanaka to send a message that urgent action was required to save such scenic places.

''We have decided on this action because we think that highlighting the disconnect between the appreciation we have for beautiful places and our energy and motivation to save them needs addressing, and needs addressing by law.

An unexpected surprise welcomed a group of tourists wanting to take a picture of the iconic Lake Wanaka tree yesterday morning. Photo: Sean Nugent
An unexpected surprise welcomed a group of tourists wanting to take a picture of the iconic Lake Wanaka tree yesterday morning. Photo: Sean Nugent
''We are looking for governments to act as if there is an emergency and to mobilise as such, and include the population in the difficult decisions that we are going to have to make to get ourselves out of this mess.''

Dozens of photographers who gathered on the foreshore to take a picture of the tree at sunrise, had mixed reactions to the sign, which was removed by the protesters at noon.

''Some people have been very gracious, other people are angry and we understand that and all we can do is say sorry, it's half a day,'' Ms Simmonds said.

''The consequences of taking a photo, while important to you right now, in the big picture is not as important as getting off our apathy and getting on with it.''

The small group of about 25 people was ''growing by the day'' and was part of the global Extinction Rebellion campaign which was founded last year in the United Kingdom and recently made headlines for large protests in London.

In the Queenstown Lakes, Ms Simmonds said bans on any potential airport expansion and minimum house build size would be a good move for local government to take, and she pointed to the United States' economy during World War 2 as an example that could be repeated in terms of saving the planet.

''They completely reversed their economy to muster energy and resources towards the war effort.

''If we could do that towards planetary effort, we could totally kick this and solve it, but we've got to start now.''

sean.nugent@odt.co.nz

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