The fourth Climate Action Summit was held on the weekend of April 27 to 29 at the University of Western Sydney. This annual summit brings together climate activists and environmentalists from across Australia to discuss campaigns and issues relating to grassroots action on climate change.
The summit opened with a public forum called “Beyond the Carbon Price” at NSW Parliament House. The audience of 160 heard from speakers that included Green Left Weekly co-editor Simon Butler in a debate with Greens leader Christine Milne, former Liberal leader John Hewson, Australian Council of Trade Unions President Ged Kearney and ALP president Jenny McAllister.
Butler criticised the lack of serious debate between the two major parties about climate change solutions. He said the policies of the “climate deniers” of the Liberal party and the “climate pretenders” of Labor will result in the same outcome — runaway climate change.
At one point during the forum, audience members heckled McAllister for saying that cutting Australia’s coal exports would not make a big difference to the world’s carbon emissions.
During discussion the speakers were asked whether they would publicly support the campaign in Port Augusta to convert two coal-fired power stations into Australia’s first renewable energy hub. The idea already has broad support in Port Augusta.
Milne and Butler declared their support for the campaign and spoke of the big health benefits, the environmental gains and the hundreds of jobs such a project would create.
The other speakers said they had not heard about the campaign and asked for more information, a request the campaigners will follow up on.
The remainder of the summit was well attended with more than 300 attendees to hear 100 different speakers on a diverse range of panels and workshops.
Some of the big issues discussed were the campaigns to stop coal and coal seam gas mining, support for renewable energy, the need for strong political campaigns and how to bridge the gap between science and politics.
Annie Nielsen, a climate activist and member of summit organisers the Parramatta Climate Action Network, told GLW: “The climate summit is important because it gives people hope and reinspires them to go back to their cities and campaign harder for the climate.”
Resolutions proposed by the summit workshops were condensed into a summit “communiqué” that reaffirmed the reality that we face a climate emergency and called for urgent climate action to be taken within the next five years.
Climate action groups resolved to “work to ‘connect the dots’ between extreme weather and human induced climate change and build understanding of local and wider impacts of our changing climate.”
[Video and written presentations from the summit are be available at the Climate Summit website.]