Great Britain

New Zealand Greta Thunberg-linked climate group disbands itself for being ‘racist white-dominated space’

A New Zealand chapter of a climate change movement linked with environmentalist Greta Thunberg has shut down because of its own racism.

The “School Strike 4 Climate” sparked by Ms Thunberg led to global marches all over the world by young people demanding action on the climate crisis.

The Auckland chapter was one of the groups that helped mobilise a demonstration of more than 80,000 people through the country’s largest city in September 2019, as reported by the Washington Post.

But now the group, School Strike 4 Climate Auckland, said in a lengthy Facebook post on Saturday that it will disband over concerns it has become a “white-dominated space”.

The statement said: “School Strike 4 Climate Auckland is disbanding as an organisation.This is under the suggestion and guidance of the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) members of our group, as well as individual BIPOC activists and organisations.

“We are not holding any more climate strikes in the Auckland region. Our members have also separated from the national SS4C team. Going forward, we will only be using our social media to uplift BIPOC-led climate justice spaces in Auckland.”

It added that SS4C AKL “has been a racist, white-dominated space” and “tokenised” BIPOC voices such as “those of Pasifika and Māori individuals in the climate activism space”.

The statement also apologised “for the hurt, burnout, and trauma caused to many BIPOC individuals” and said the disbanding of the chapter was “well overdue”.

The move to disband has been received with a mixed reception, with some supporting the decision and others thinking it could divide the movement.

Anevili, a spokesperson for indigenous youth climate advocacy group Te Ara Whatu, told The Guardian: “Decolonisation is a big task, and it’s a brave call for them to say they have problems with racism… and then step back and say that disbanding is the right thing to do.”

However Mary Moeono-Kolio, the Wellington coordinator of 350 Pacific Climate Warriors, said the announcement was “sad, disappointing, and most especially divisive”.

Moeono-Kolio added: “The climate movement needs everyone’s involvement and commitment.”

The global movement was sparked when Ms Thunberg started skipping school in order to protest politicians at the Swedish parliament in 2018. Since then millions of young people worldwide have protested since the first global demonstration in March 2019.

The Independent has approached the group for comment.

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