Wednesday Vigils: Francesca

This is the first day after the election to continue our climate change vigil on Parliament lawn.
We decided to continue once a week on Wednesday to remind politicians and Jacinda in particular of her promise to declare a Climate Emergency and that we need to act because “ Climate Change is our generation’s nuclear moment.”

Sue Boyd and I, Francesca Pouwer, put our hands up to share a 10 to2pm vigil alternate weeks. Others will come in to support as they can.

This was my first time to be the one to take over the baton so to speak. If felt a bit lonely when I arrived on the lawn. Thankfully the constant rain had cleared and it was a beautiful blue day. I had also decided to make myself a new sign at Parliament and I came prepared with board and coloured pens. This helped me to get into the swing of taking on the responsibility to continue our vigil.

I have selected the following question to engage with the public and as a challenge to parliament.
How can a City be as generous as a Forest?

This question stayed with me from reading Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist by Kate Raworth.
It comes from one of the seven ways to think section Create to Regenerate. This question really challenges us to think of all the ways we can minimise waste. In other words, it requires our current civilisation to move from Take-Make-Use-Lose to a system that focuses on Regeneration, using green energy and resources that can be reused and repaired. It takes a mindset change! This is our challenge to the Government!!! To signify this Kate, myself and Diane sat on the other side of the Seddon Statue facing parliament. Kate had a sign around her neck saying: “C’mon Jacinda”. Diana held up “There is no Planet B!”
We need the Political Will for crucial changes to meet zero carbon by 2030 and to reimagine our way of life to save our oceans and all life in motion for future generations.
This need for Political Will was also pointed out in Last week’s New Scientist 17 10 2020 articles on THE OTHER GLOBAL CRISIS that is ramping up after Corona. Hereby some salient points from one article Climate’s Make or Break year by Adam Vaughan (pp.34 – 39).
“..the wider world has the technology and the tools to halve the emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. …. Governments need the political will, and businesses, which will pay for a lot of it, will be vital. Economic shifts well under way, such as the falling price of renewable energy and batteries, will make some decisions easy. Citizens meanwhile, who can only do so much by insulating their homes or buying an electric car, need to pressure their political representatives, in writing, in election, and when necessary on the street.”
There we have it. We need to keep going.
And “the biggest change we see from climate change is on temperature, and there climate is an absolute game-changer,” according to Friederike Otto at the University of Oxford.
We in New Zealand have the highest emissions from agriculture plus car use in the OECD. A member of Tramsaction, who dropped by today highlights the fact that our Transport system is sorely lacking. He talked to us about how Light Rail has a narrow-gauge and it is absolutely the right choice for extending our public transport and that it is faster than current rail carriages. Yet the new carriages ordered for Johnsonville line were not light rail.” If they were” he argued” it would be easy for the tracks to be continued into the city so you could stay on the same train”. He stressed that the government and the city council need to ensure efficiency, reduce time travel and cost in order for the public to move en-mass to public transport. “I am ashamed to admit that I used the car to get to work because of the time it took to get there.” Is what he said. He was off to parliament to hand deliver a letter about the need for light rail. He wanted to make sure it got attention. He came back a bit later that he needed to use free post. It is no longer possible to hand deliver our plights.
Other visitors echo the concern that we as individuals can only do so much. A retired couple from Whakatane responded with” We have to keep posing the question (to government) I suppose.”
Another comment from a couple from the Bay of Plenty said: “Jacinda has no excuse now. This government has to come up with the changes. Not for us, it’s for our children that they need to do this for.”
Later on, an elderly man in his eighties called out: “I agree with what you are doing but… There is always a BUT isn’t there?” He came down from the steps and continued,
” I think it is too late. We have all been too greedy and it’s all about money. You won’t change that”
Violet, who was supporting over lunch, countered with “But it’s not all of us. I hold the oil companies responsible….. And we are in this economy and only have a few choices. We can’t easily make the changes!!!”
“Well yes”, said our visitor, “I cannot blame you for trying. But it is not for me. I have had my life. .. we here are the lucky ones. My children might be affected, well not so much them but my grandchildren, they will be the ones to see the changes. So yeh, I suppose we should still try.”
“Yes,” I thought, “if the world were to end tomorrow, I will still plant a tree today.”
We also had a visit from a large group of Raumati South Primary School children. They did a parliament tour and were sent out to do a quiz around parliament afterward. I asked one of the teachers what she thought of the question on my placard: How can a city be as generous as a forest?
“It‘s very interesting. I think I will ask the kids this question sometime.”
I hope she will.
In the meantime, I heard several kids trying to read the sign out loud while they sat having their lunch under the big Pohutukawa on the lawn. One of them was stumbling over the word ‘generous’. So, I read it out to him and asked if he knew what it meant. He came forward a few steps,
“Yes, it’s what people do, give things. Also, we should not cut trees!”
Once the quiz started a group came right up to the Seddon statue to read the sign. A few of them started looking at me holding my placard. And then one boy said:
“Are you poor?” with a disbelieving look on his face.
“No, I am not asking for money. I am asking you to think. Have a look what the sign says.”

But really, if we do not take this question seriously, our precious Papatuanuku and all life on it will be much impoverished. I hope David Goldsmith is right when he responded on WhatsApp:
“Love, love, love the sign! Beautiful question that could go on resonating in people’s mind.”
But I want it specially to keep resonating in the minds of our politicians and mayor businesses.

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1 Response to Wednesday Vigils: Francesca

  1. Ian Langman says:


    I would love to engage with anyone who is interested in taking on the climate crisis. That said, although I believe that protest is a good thing, it helps [a little bit] to raise awareness, at the end of the day it will not be effective. We must face the stark reality that our politicians will not move on this, despite their fine rhetoric. Saddens me to say – that Jacinda is no better than all the others in this regard – after all she is a the servant of the Labour Party – which does not and will never do what is necessary – axe neo-liberal economics.

    So – if we do wish to make change – it must be we who do it. Given that only Political will can move the dial – or plan for climageddon, then there is only one course of action – create a political party [Six Degrees – is my suggestion] and use protest and activities to raise its profile and recruit members.

    I will not go into detail here about this – but for sure to save the planet we must provide the tools to do so. In the first instance this is to address the economic and political structures – both of which will have widespread support and I believe will provide many, many people an alternative to voting Labour/National/ACT at the next election. Although the objective is to combat climate change this is not the primary necessarily the primary message

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