Climate scientist arrested for demanding stronger climate action

March 3, 2023
Climate activists take their message to the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association. Photo: XR Canberra/Facebook

Five climate activists, including grandparents, a climate research scientist, were arrested on February 28 for blockading headquarters of the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA), the umbrella organisation for gas and oil corporations.

It was the second day of coordinated actions across Australia.

More than 30 supporters of Extinction Rebellion ACT and Stop Fossil Fuel Subsidies gathered at APPEA to disrupt and show solidarity with Lismore’s flood victims — 6000 of whom are still waiting to hear about rehoming, a year on.

Activists barricaded the front doors with lifeboats while others dropped a banner which read: “We’re drowning in fossil fuels” and “You can’t offset a climate crisis”.

Police search and rescue attended. The five arrestees will appear before the ACT Magistrates Court on March 29.

The escalation in tactics came after recent more polite lobbying efforts were met with no response.

Dr Nick Abel from Extinction Rebellion ACT said: “I’m a grandfather and a research scientist in climate adaptation to sea level rise and river flooding with CSIRO and now the Australian National University. Now I’m reaching my eighties my main job has become civil disobedience.

“People criticise XR for being too disruptive, but polite does not work. We have tried polite.”

Extinction Rebellion ACT is working seven community climate organisations on the Dirty Dozen campaign to deliver and publish open letters to APPEA. It has sought meetings with elected representatives, urging stronger policy on climate.

“Our concerns continue to go unacknowledged, let alone dealt with. We are therefore left to take more disruptive non-violent actions. As my late friend and scientific colleague, climate activist Will Steffen told us, we must act now because we are on the threshold of an irreversible hothouse hell.

“APPEA’s actions and government inaction are putting us at risk. If we don’t act, we’ll all face catastrophic climate collapse."

Cate Adams from Stop Fossil Fuel Subsidies said: “Our governments continue to give the fossil fuel industry $11 billion per year in subsidies, which is $22,000 per minute. It’s unacceptable in a climate emergency for our governments to use our money to make it worse.”

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