Hundreds attend Rising Tide meeting, call for no new coal

October 13, 2023
Rising Tide meeting at Newcastle Town Hall. Photo: Rising Tide/Facebook

Hundreds attended a forum to discuss why fossil fuel projects should not be given the go-ahead in a time of climate crisis. The meeting was hosted by Rising Tide at Newcastle Town Hall on October 9.

Rising Tide is organising a “People’s Blockade” of the coal port, November 24-27.

Three chairs for invited federal and NSW Labor MPs were unoccupied, attracting censure and ridicule.

Speakers addressed the changing climate records, discussing significantly larger and unprecedented margins. We heard how the Thwaites glacier in the Antarctica is “hanging on by its fingernails”. If it goes, so will neighbouring glaciers, locking in a 7 metre sea level rise.

Former president of Kiribati and outspoken climate campaigner Anote Tong, who spoke via Zoom, described how a recent high tide washed into his doorway.

Tong said Peter Dutton’s quip in 2015 that “Time doesn’t mean anything when you’re about to have water lapping at your door” was no joke.

He said there was no point in trying to raise infrastructure on the islands because, given the rate of polar melting, sea level rises would only worsen.

“The future is seriously under threat and the international community is not providing for us,” Tong said. He concluded that his people don’t read the reports on climate change “because it would only make them miserable”.

He inferred that it is because the people of the Pacific are not being listened to and feel they cannot do anything about fossil fuel production.

But we can.

Australia has become the third largest fossil fuel exporter in the world, with 740 projects approved since 2000. The panel agreed that the government is “saying the right things” and parroting the fossil fuel lobby’s talking points.

Rising Tide organiser Alexa Stuart said that the “gob smacking rate of fossil fuel approvals is impossible to accept”.

“Our elected representatives are afraid. But if we are loud enough, then they may have the courage to stand up to the fossil fuel lobby.”

MC Jane Caro asked the panel if there was anything to be optimistic about. Lesley Hughes, from the Climate Council of Australia, replied that we should “think of hope, not so as an emotion, but as a strategy”.

Thousands of people are expected to blockade fossil fuel exports at Horseshoe Beach, the lands and waters of the Worimi and Awabakal people, over November 24–27. Rising Tide organisers are ensuring citizens’ right to protest is protected.

David Pocock, Independent MP, said that we should challenge the way the law criminalises climate protestors. He detailed how Whitehaven Coal stole more than one billion litres of water during a drought, but was only fined $220,000. He said fossil fuel corporations “work the systems” and “make sweet deals” to “take the profits and moving on while we carry the costs of climate change”.

Rising Tide organiser Alexa Stuart urged people to join the Blockade. “We are facing massive non-linear changes in climate and therefore we need massive non-linear resistance to force Parliament to act”.

[For more information and to pledge support for campaign visit Rising Tide.]

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