'We put this government on notice'

This article is based on a speech by Ewan Saunders at the Brisbane Climate Emergency Rally on June 13. Saunders helped organise the event and co-chaired the rally. He is also a member of Resistance.


From 31 January to 3 February this year in Canberra, 500 people came together for Australia's first Climate Action Summit.

Out of those 500 people, about 150 climate action and environmental groups from all around Australia were represented.

Over four packed days, people participated in an array of workshops and presentations. They formed links with groups and individuals from other states and discussed at length the way forward to build the kind of grassroots climate action movement we need in Australia.

But this was no ordinary meeting of the heads of big environment bodies and the like.

It might not have been high on their minds, but these 500 people were making history.

The Climate Action Summit represented the birth of a new social phenomenon, a new force on the Australian political landscape — a more united, collaborative, nation-wide and grassroots climate action movement.

The increasingly coherent messages of this movement are starting to be heard across this continent. And today, and in coming months and years, we will be heard, we will be seen and we will have an impact.

What was unique, and so very powerful, about the climate summit, was not just the coming together of people determined to prevent a catastrophic change in our biosphere. It was the optimistic and determined outcomes of the summit.

The summit didn't end on February 3. It's still going today. And it's not stopping.

Teams were formed to develop an effective national structure for our movement. To formulate the policies that need fighting for. And to help carry out perhaps the most important part of the summit — the campaign objectives to be taken over the next 12 months, in this decisive year of 2009.

The National Climate Emergency Rally was one of those campaign objectives. And today, in every capital city, Adelaide, Canberra, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, in Wollongong too, and here in Brisbane, many thousands of Australians are taking to the streets, with a loud voice, a clear voice, and a united voice.

Today, across Australia, we the people, demand a decent, safe and livable future for ourselves, for our children, for our children's children.

We put this government — and any future government — on notice.

We say, we demand: either you make the changes this planet needs in the frighteningly limited timeframe we have left, or we will take you out of your position of power. Because you will not have used it responsibly.

We demand a rapid transition from this dangerous fossil-fuel economy to an economy powered by zero-emission, renewable technology. Technology that exists today. Technology that right now has the proven ability to provide base-load power, despite the lies and distortions the coal magnates and the so-called greenhouse mafia peddle.

We demand the renewal of our economy in a time when it is most needed with the creation of tens of thousands of "green-collar" jobs. We know there is the economic modelling, and the lived experience of some pioneering countries, that proves it can be done.

We demand Australian global leadership in making this necessary transition. Because with our wealth, with our resources and with our expertise we are far better positioned than the poorest nations to make this transition

It's the poorest nations who will be, and are being, worst effected by the devastating effects of climate change.

And across Australia today, the first National Climate Emergency Rally, echoes, and amplifies, the call from the first National Climate Summit.

Together, we demand climate policies that make the big polluters pay.

And as for the so-called Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme before federal parliament, a scheme that will not guarantee a single ton of carbon emission cuts, a scheme that gives permits to pollute and locks in targets that the best climate science guarantees will give us unimaginably dangerous runaway climate change — together we demand that this legislation must not become law!