We started this project to find out what local government candidates thought about climate change. Our core group – who live and work in Wellington – talked to Generation Zero and found out they were already covering the Greater Wellington Regional Council and Wellington City Council. We decided we could best help by questioning candidates in the four main other councils in the region, Hutt City, Upper Hutt, Porirua and Kāpiti Coast District Council. This would supplement Generation Zero’s work in the main centres.
Enter the power of Facebook. We hear of Facebook being used for ill, but in this case we are wielding a very strong tool for good. After a few posts on the Common Climate Network page, and sending out a media release, we started to hear from like minded people who wanted to use our questionnaire in their local elections. We started sending it out, and the ‘Network’ in our name has come to life, sending out tendrils to cover most of the country.
So we would like to say a little about those like minded souls who are flying the climate action banner all around the country.
They may need no introduction, but we want to acknowledge the inspiration Generation Zero has provided with their leading work on the Zero Carbon Act and local government scorecards for the 2016 elections.
Generation Zero are compiling questionnaires and scorecards for local body elections in: Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. They will also publish the results of the Common Climate Network questionnaires alongside their own results on www.localelections.nz
Millions of Mothers
Millions of Mothers was founded in May this year by Alicia Hall, before the last School Strike 4 Climate. They wanted to show their solidarity and support, and the importance of gaining hope through action. Millions of Mothers has distributed the Common Climate Network questionnaire to candidates in 12 local body elections from Kaipara to Southland. Members have also made submissions on the Zero Carbon Bill.
“I wanted to show parent support for SS4C – and it turns out I am not the only one who feels that way!”, Alicia told me. “There are many barriers for mothers taking direct action and it leads to many feeling a sense of helplessness and powerlessness.
“I also attended the first strike on March 15 with my three children then aged between three and 10, and my 10 year-old in particular was empowered by the experience, and taking action helped lessen his anxiety. What helped lessen it most though – was seeing his parents become directly involved in climate activism.
Low Carbon Kāpiti
Low Carbon Kāpiti was the first organisation to distribute the Common Climate Network questionnaire to their local candidates. Jake Roos established Low Carbon Kāpiti at the start of 2017 after working in local government for many years, bringing together people who care about the issues with experts.
“I could see that there were a lot of people passionate about the environment and the community but they were not working together, and they were not asking the right questions and it seemed that Council was quite responsive to community groups as opposed to individuals.”
“How important voters rate climate change as an issue is not up to us, but at least they can be armed with the facts. And if they want to vote for a climate friendly council, then they’ll have that information.
“Every area of the country has to cut their emissions, and that applies equally to Kāpiti. We had pushed the council to adopt a carbon neutral target for themselves for 2025, and that was agreed by the previous council. So we want the new council to continue that and get into the nitty gritty of how they are going to deliver it.”
Low Carbon Kāpiti are on Facebook.
All Saints’ Parish Green Taskforce
Robert Gibb is one of the founders and co-leaders of the Green Taskforce, active out of the All Saints’ Parish in Palmerston North. The Green Taskforce have distributed the questionnaire to candidates running for Palmerston North City Council, Horizons Regional Council, and also to Mayoral candidates for councils in the Horizons region.
Green Taskforce emerged about three years ago out of one of All Saint’s Sunday congregations, and the idea was strongly supported and encouraged by Rev. John Hornblow and others.
“We started by leading occasional services, and encouraging tree planting – Keith is a leader of the local branch of A Rocha, who are very active as volunteers running a native plant nursery and providing seedlings for native tree planting to council.
“Two years ago, the Wellington Diocese led by Bishop Justin called for climate action by all Parishes and appointed a climate response coordinator, so we then were part of a wider pan-Wellington regional network, and have run occasional training sessions for leaders in other parishes. Last year when Council’s 10 year plans came up for submissions, we decided to step up, and we have continued to challenge them whenever we felt they needed it.”
Green Taskforce are running three Meet the Candidate meetings for Palmerston North’s Mayoral, City and Regional Council candidates and livestreaming them through Facebook so that people who can’t attend on the day can still hear their candidates speak.
We would also like to acknowledge those highly motivated individuals who have connected to us, via Facebook or in real life, and put their hand up to help. They are our friends and family, or acquaintances who have become friends as well as part of the Common Climate Network whānau. They have joined us on working bees for grading, helped us with design or communications, or just encouraged us to keep plugging away on this project through by cooking dinner or bringing us countless cups of tea at our keyboards.
Other groups we tautoko
When we were first exploring this project, we met other groups doing similar things in nearby domains. Passionate residents of the Wellington region, working on urban issues, transport, and health, include Talk Wellington, Bryan Crump with The Traffic Jam, Women in Urbanism and the Public Health Association. We’d like to acknowledge their valuable work in these areas, as well as the generous advice they shared with us early on.
So if you thought one person couldn’t make a difference, think again. All of these groups, and indeed the Common Climate Network itself, is made up of one person at a time putting their hand up and wanting to make a difference. Suggested by one of our original members, the word Network is an important part of the name – possibly the most important.