The day after the May 18 federal election, as people were reeling from the unexpected result and taking time to regroup, the initiators of Extinction Rebellion WA hosted a picnic at the Hilton Harvest Community Gardens near Fremantle.
One hundred and fifty people attended and, while there was some licking of post-election wounds, what dominated was a sense of hope and determination.
The sentiment expressed at the meeting was that neither of the major parties had really grasped the nettle on climate change, and that it would take a people's campaign to force the government to declare a climate emergency and reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025.
Since then, Extinction Rebellion WA — which takes its inspiration from the movement of the same name in Britain, which forced that government to declare a climate emergency — has struck a chord, with many people getting involved to connect and rebel with others who share their concerns about the future of the planet.
On June 13, 120 people attended a public launch of Extinction Rebellion WA at the Hilton Community Centre, while 150 people participated in a die-in under teeming rain in Perth's Murray Mall on June 22.
The following statement was released at the launch of Extinction Rebellion WA.
We call on the Australian government to declare a climate emergency and initiate a transition to net zero emissions and beyond at a speed dictated by the urgent and planetary scale of the crisis.
We are facing the loss of human civilisation and all forms of life on Earth. Our leaders promote deliberate misinformation and fail to acknowledge the serious and imminent threat to our survival.
We demand that the Australian government and the media tell the truth about the climate and ecological crisis.
We must move to an emergency footing to address this crisis. It is reckless beyond imagining to go on making our planet hotter. We demand that all levels of government commit to reducing greenhouse gases to net zero by 2025.
They must also commit to the massive task of removing excess greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere until we restore a safe climate.
Our democracy has been corrupted by vested interests and our political representatives have failed to protect us. We demand that the emergency transition be directed by a Citizens’ Assembly, as we move towards a democracy fit for purpose.
This national Citizens’ Assembly is to be charged with initiating, directing and overseeing the implementation of solutions that governments have proved unwilling or unable to achieve.
We hold the following to be true:
This is our darkest hour. Humanity finds itself in a crisis unprecedented in its history.
The time for action is now.
The science is clear: climate change is not debateable. The evidence is all around us.
Biodiversity is being annihilated. We are in the sixth mass extinction event. Our seas are poisoned, acidic and rising.
Flooding and desertification continue to render vast tracts of land uninhabitable, leading to mass migration. The insect population of the planet is plummeting, threatening the very basis of our global ecosystem.
The breakdown of our climate has begun. There will be more bushfires, unpredictable and destructive storms, increasing drought and famine, as food supplies and fresh water become scarce and unreliable.
It is not just a matter of adapting to new difficulties. We are fast approaching the point of no return. Unless we act now, everything around us will begin to die with terrifying swiftness and our species too may perish. Already millions of lives have been lost. Soon it will be billions.
Across Australia we see the onset of climate disaster: the ravages of fire and flood at an unprecedented rate and scale; arable land killed by drought; rivers choked by rotting fish; the first mammalian extinction directly due to the climate emergency. The Bramble Cay Melomys was driven to extinction by the unnatural flooding of its island home in northern Queensland.
The ecological crises destroying this land of ours can no longer be ignored or denied by anyone who claims to have reason, conscience or morality.
Australia is founded upon colonisation, industrialisation and commercialisation of the natural world. We must acknowledge the dispossession of the Indigenous people of this land and tragically degraded country that was cared for over more than a hundred thousand years. The impending climate catastrophe is one clear consequence of such a trajectory.
We resist. No longer will this nation be one of destruction and genocide. We need to hear the ancient wisdom of the world’s Indigenous people and treat our home with deep love and respect.
In accordance with these values, with truth and with the weight of scientific evidence, we declare it is our duty to act on behalf of the security and wellbeing of our children, our communities, and the existence of life on Earth.
We declare ourselves in rebellion against our government and those corporations that threaten our future until such time as our demands are met.
We hereby declare the bonds of the social contract, which the government has rendered invalid by their complete failure to protect us, to be null and void.
We are not content to die because our leaders lack the wisdom and courage to do what needs to be done to ensure a safe climate future. When politics has become corrupted by the powerful few then citizens must restore meaningful democracy.
It is our inalienable right to protect the security of the land and its peoples where our governments have failed. It is our duty as people who believe in life and love to rebel. This is our last resort.
Our rebellion responds to the imminence of complete annihilation. It does so with hope and dedication, powered by evidence of what is possible when people rise up peacefully and demand change.
We are inspired by multiple histories of non-violent direct action leading to change worldwide. Here in Australia we recall with pride the successes of the Franklin River campaign, the Wave Hill Walk Off, the South West Forest campaign, the Beeliar Wetland campaign and James Price Point.
This rebellion is for everyone. We call upon every principled and peaceful citizen to rise with us.
To be freed from oppression by the powerful few we will cast aside social divisions based upon race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, religion and gender, and come together and fight for our lives.
We will not allow corporate profiteers to dictate government decisions that place us and future generations in deadly peril.
We are a global movement. We stand with every other nation rising with us, all over the world. Our near neighbours on Pacific Islands are already losing the land under their feet.
We stand with and acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land. Indigenous Australians have already faced the consequences of ecological and cultural destruction.
We say enough! We are many. We will act. We will rise. We demand justice. We will protect ourselves. We will prevail.
With love and rage.