Campaigning against climate change in South Australia

December 9, 2009

The state with some of the most promising renewable energy resources on the planet also has one of Australia's most active climate change committees.

In its first full year of existence, the Climate Emergency Action Network (CLEAN) has organised an impressive array of events, including successful seminars featuring the Australia Institute's Richard Denniss, Beyond Zero Emissions' Matthew Wright and Canadian ecosocialist Ian Angus.

CLEAN also organised a forum to challenge prominent climate scientist, Barry Brook — a supporter of fourth generation nuclear power — and held a successful fundraising dinner to raise money for women affected by the recent severe storms in the Philippines.

In August, 5000 households across Adelaide got a CLEAN flyer explaining the climate emergency campaign. CLEAN also raised public awareness in South Australia through with the Climate Emergency Rally, which drew 1500 people onto the streets of Adelaide, demanding 100% renewable energy by 2020.

CLEAN also supported the first Climate Camp held in South Australia, at the end of September. The protest action held at the gates of Port Augusta's brown coal power station attracted significant media attention.

Robyn Waite and her young son are regulars at CLEAN meetings and protests. Waite also founded the group "Mums, Kids and Climate", which aims to raise awareness and activism around climate change amongst parenting networks.

Waite told Green Left Weekly: "I really like the breadth of CLEAN's activities, from educational forums to participation in fairly radical direct action such as the Climate Camp at Port Augusta.

"It seems to me that CLEAN is the only group in Adelaide that is really tackling the climate emergency and formulating demands and its response on that basis."

CLEAN's latest achievement is the development of a detailed position statement, an important explanation of exactly how the climate emergency can be addressed. The full statement is available at It is reproduced below in an abridged form.

* * *

CLEAN recognises that:
a. the world now faces a climate emergency that requires urgent action to prevent humanity and the biosphere from suffering a catastrophe;
b. the climate emergency has been largely caused by the excessive use of fossil fuels in the world's wealthy and industrialised nations;
c. as the wealthy nations of the world have very largely caused the climate emergency and have unfairly exploited many of the poorest nations' people and natural resources, the wealthy nations owe a very substantial duty to compensate poorer nations by providing them with financial aid to develop green energy infrastructure and to enable living standards to be raised to reasonable levels;
d. wealthy nations must play a leading role in mitigating climate change and be willing to make much more substantial cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions, in absolute and relative terms, than poorer nations;
e. in dealing with the climate emergency, all solutions must be based on the principles of both ecological sustainability and social and economic justice between all nations and between individuals within nations; and
f. using the nuclear fuel cycle for generating electricity from nuclear power plants is highly expensive and dangerous.

CLEAN calls for the following measures to be implemented:

· an equitable, comprehensive and legally binding agreement by all nations, to urgently reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to sustainable levels;
· creation by 2020 of 100% renewable energy infrastructure;
· a green energy transition scheme that, among other things, requires federal and state governments to: facilitate and invest in the rapid growth of green energy industries, fund the development of publicly-owned green energy infrastructure through interest-free loans to public utilities; abolish all subsidies and tax breaks for carbon-based fuel production; cut public spending on items such as freeways and military hardware;
· an effective and equitable carbon pricing mechanism, such as a carbon tax with 100% dividend, to encourage the development of green energy sources;
· rejection of any type of emissions trading scheme (ETS), unless it is socially just and clearly effective in reducing emissions to the levels required for a safe climate;
· reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by wealthy nations to at least 60% below 1990 levels by 2020 and zero emissions by 2040, with substantial complementary cuts by poorer nations;
· all workers in the fossil fuel industries should be given the opportunity to retrain on fair pay for alternative jobs in ecologically sustainable industries;
· an immediate ban on the destruction of old-growth forests;
· creation, through research programs, broad consultation and appropriate incentives, of a rural sector, which: maximises the potential for carbon sequestration through soil management; encourages organic farming; and minimises methane emissions; and
· a ban on nuclear power plants for any kind of energy generation, along with the closure of all uranium mines and uranium enrichment facilities.

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