We need climate action now!
The article below is based on a speech given by Simon Butler as chair of the Sydney Climate Emergency Rally on June 13. Butler is also a member of the Socialist Alliance.
Today is a historic occasion. Today the Australian people are standing up for a safe climate future.
We're telling the government that if it refuses to act it can expect to see more and more action from us because we will not stand by and watch while our future, and our children's future, is put at risk.
Today, thousands of Australians are standing together in rallies across Australia, calling for climate solutions instead of broken promises.
Emergency action to stop climate change is what we want, what the planet needs. That's what we owe to future generations.
We live in dangerous, perilous times. We live at a time when the world's climate scientists are all but screaming from the rooftops for serious action. We face a climate emergency — requiring emergency action. And we're not getting that action from the government — far from it.
"We have at most 10 years — not 10 years to decide upon action, but 10 years to alter fundamentally the trajectory of global greenhouse emissions."
Those are not my words, but the words of one of the world's top climate scientists — James Hansen.
Clean, renewable technology already exists and it can do the job. But change will only happen if the government is forced to take action by our movement. So we will keep protesting in greater and greater numbers until we get it.
We need 100% renewable energy in 10 years. That's what science and global justice demands. And we don't care if the coal companies, the oil companies, and the other big polluters don't like it, because this is our planet and we will not see life extinguished on our planet for corporate greed.
We can convert Australia to renewable energy and produce thousands of green jobs at the same time. Those who work in polluting industries must be first in line for a new job. We want green collar jobs — not job cuts.
While we live in dangerous and perilous times, we are hopeful and determined people.
We live in a time of an energy revolution, a time when there's got to be a change. The people in power have misused it, and a better world has to be built.
We should be confident that if we stay united and mobilised, our movement will become an unstoppable force. We will build this better world, a carbon-neutral world, together.
It is one of the cruelest ironies of climate change that those who have done the least to make it such a threat will be the first to face its awful impacts. Our neighbours in the Pacific Islands are in this situation. They need and deserve our support.
We need emergency action, but the Rudd government has given us the opposite. The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme will not stop emissions. It will not restore a safe climate. But it will give billions of dollars of taxpayers' money to Australia's biggest polluters. It is as if the government had announced a tax on alcohol — and exempted drinkers from paying.
Today we say to PM Kevin Rudd go back to the drawing board with your flawed emissions trading scheme. Spend those billions on direct investment in renewable energy now!
If we are going to make the momentous change to a safe climate in time, we need a transition that includes social justice and the creation of thousands of green jobs. We cannot get there without the support, involvement and leadership of the union movement. So if you are a unionist and you don't think your union is doing enough, now is the time to take it up with them.
Our message to the politicians is don't try to negotiate with the laws of chemistry and physics. Climate change does not negotiate. It cannot be bought off. The biosphere is asserting its limits. Politics must fall into line.
We condemn that the fact that Australia is world's biggest polluter per person. Australia should stop undermining international negotiations to cut emissions. Australia should take the lead.
We are part of a vital and growing climate movement that extends beyond our borders to community networks and concerned citizens across the world.
Finally, we should take a pledge to continue the fight against unsustainable pollution and for renewable energy now. To the politicians who will try to stand in our way, heed our warning: we will make you unelectable.