Climate movement: 'let's get serious'

June 21, 2008

Growing concern about climate change has led to the formation of dozens of local community climate action groups across Victoria. Many of these are among the 45 endorsees of the July 5 Climate Emergency rally, at which Greens Senator Bob Brown will speak.

"The fact that there are so many groups getting involved in this rally shows the real strength of the climate movement — there are many people out there who are not just concerned about climate change, but are prepared to take action, to try to mobilise their community", said Ben Courtice, one of the rally organisers. "In addition to some of the bigger names like Environment Victoria and Greenpeace, the involvement of community action groups and grassroots activists in the organising indicates the potential for this movement to grow."

The Climate Emergency rally has four demands: renewable energy not coal power; public transport not new freeways; no desalination; and no bay dredging.

"The rally will aim to highlight the severity of the situation: we will be forming a human sign spelling out the words 'climate emergency'", said Courtice, who is also an activist in the Friends of the Earth Climate Justice collective and a member of the Socialist Alliance.

"Importantly, we will also be protesting the government actions that will be adding to the problem, such as the unnecessary and carbon intensive desalination plant in Wonthaggi, the expansion of freeways, bay dredging and the plan for the new coal plant in the LaTrobe Valley."

The protest will bring together a range of campaign groups such as Your Water Your Say, which has run a very active campaign in the Wonthaggi area against the proposed desalination plant, and Blue Wedges, which is campaigning against dredging in Port Phillip Bay, as well as groups who focus on the broader issue of climate change such as the Climate Emergency Network. Other endorsees include the National Tertiary Education Union, Friends of the Earth, the Greens and the Public Transport Users Association.

The protest won't just focus on the Australian impact of climate change. Emeretta Cross from Merethan Vision, who will address the rally as a representative of the Pacific Island Tuvalu and Kiribati communities, says she sees the rally as important "for the children and their relatives back in the islands. It is quite obvious that climate change will mean displacement of people and this will make it hard for families to be together. It has a global impact."

The Climate Emergency Rally and human sign will be on Saturday July 5, at 1pm at City Square (corner of Swanston and Collins Streets, Melbourne). For more information and updates, visit]

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