Last week, a group of climate activists including UoA students disrupted Z Energy CEO Mike Bennett’s lecture at the University of Auckland. Craccum’s News Editor Jessica Hopkins was on the scene to watch it all go down, except for Z Energy’s carbon emissions
The Business School recently invited the CEO of Z Energy, owned by Australian oil giant Ampol, to give a presentation about “transitioning to a low carbon future.” Spoiler alert, it wasn’t received well.
Members of Extinction Rebellion, supported by Fridays4Future Tāmaki Makaurau and 350 Aotearoa orchestrated a joint protest on 4 August, condemning the University for giving a platform to one of Aotearoa’s biggest carbon producers.
Z Energy is the second worst climate polluter in the country according to the Environmental Protection Authority.
Around 30 protesters rose from their seats in the lecture theatre, and delivered a passionate chant accusing the CEO of greenwashing and calling him a “climate criminal.”
Most of the protesters including UoA students left the lecture hall singing the activist song ‘Which Side Are You On?’ after being ordered to leave the University by event organisers.
Protest spokesperson Adam Currie criticised the University for removing the protestors from the lecture.
“The University tells us to be the critic and conscience of society, yet students are being expelled from the University premises for doing exactly that.”
A few activists stormed the stage to display a large banner that said “just stop oil”. Security arrived shortly after, and despite threats that they would be arrested, they continued protesting for the duration of the lecture.
Some members of the audience told the activists to “grow up” and “shut up” with one older audience member singing ‘So Long, Farewell’ from The Sound of Music.
When one climate activist proclaimed, “What about your children?” the same audience member yelled “I don’t have any fucking children.”
Olivia Bird, a UoA student and member of Fridays for Future said in response to the audience members comment: “Believe me, I wish I could shut up and grow up peacefully, but the world that Z is creating does not allow me that privilege. That is why I am here.”
The Business School told Craccum that it is important for students to “hear from all sides of the debate.”
“Energy companies such as Z Energy have an important role to play in helping to create a low carbon future. As the promotion for the event asked: how does Z Energy move from being in the middle of the problem to being at the heart of the solution?”
Z Energy says they do not wish to comment on the matter.