Green Left Weekly sponsored a public forum on May 28 on the future of the campaign for climate action following the win by the Coalition government in the May 18 federal election.
Marie Flood, from Stop Coal Seam Gas (CSG) Sydney and the Knitting Nannas, denounced the "big push" by the Murdoch press and the fossil fuel lobby for a rapid increase in coal mining and CSG production after the election.
"Ten years of struggle by environmentalists, farmers, First Nations people, and the local community has so far successfully held up CSG drilling in the Pilliga Forest,” Flood said. “Santos proposes 850 gas wells in the area, which would threaten the waters of the Great Artesian Basin, provide a risk to the health of workers and local communities, and destroy the trees, plants and fauna of the unique Pilliga region.”
A bill is set to go before the NSW Parliament to halt the Santos project. Flood said the anti-CSG movement would be urging support for the bill, and for an end to fracking in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
Reid Pierce, from Extinction Rebellion, explained the background to the organisation: “Extinction Rebellion is a non-violent resistance movement, founded in May last year in Britain. It is based on opposition to the upcoming sixth extinction facing the planet, and the fight for survival against climate change.
“The November mass action in London blockading the bridges resulted in the British Parliament declaring a climate emergency. Extinction Rebellion already has runs on the board, and now has branches in 50 countries.”
In Australia, Extinction Rebellion organised successful mass actions on May 24, attracting up to 1000 people in Sydney and an estimated 5000 in Melbourne. It is working with councils, including Sydney’s Inner West Council and the City of Sydney, to declare a climate emergency on a local level.
Lil Barto, from Frontline Action on Coal (FLAC), said: “FLAC has been focused recently on stopping the Adani coal mine. Our approach is to practice non-violent direct action, such as blockading coal train lines.
“Communities have been lied to about coal. After the election disappointment, we need the movement to take up the fight against Adani and other mines even more strongly, in spite of government policy.
“We also call for strong legal and other support for those arrested under the increasingly repressive anti-protest laws, especially in NSW.”
Zeb Parkes, from Green Left Weekly and Socialist Alliance, presented a short history of the climate change action movement, from the period of the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2010.
“Stop Adani and End Coal have re-energised the climate action movement,” Parkes said. "But we need to take on the issue of capitalism, not just immediate climate goals.
“We need an eco-socialist, as well as a climate justice, movement. For example, the refugee rights and climate change struggles are closely linked.
“And we need to unite the climate justice and social change movements. We need more mass actions, strikes and other tactics to build the movement.
“In the end, the climate movement is international. We need to build solidarity between climate action and the movements for social justice around the world.”