About 5000 people walked across Canberra’s Commonwealth Bridge and rallied in front of Parliament House on June 5, calling for real action on climate change now. Up to 45,000 people rallied nationwide. Speakers at the Canberra rally included former Liberals Leader John Hewson, Richard Denniss from the Australia Institute, 2010 Greens Senate candidate Lin Hatfield Dodds and Bishop Pat Power. Hewson said we needed to respond to climate change with a greater sense of urgency and in a way that recognised the magnitude of the problem.
The recent figures on CO2 emissions are sobering. Despite the fact that the world has suffered a terrible recession, emissions are still rising. In essence, all the efforts to tackle climate change have simply slowed the rise a little rather than reverse it. The problem is that the solutions to climate change put forward at international conferences like Copenhagen and Cancun dare not deal with the real root cause of climate change — our current economic system.
Opposed to carbon tax I am a committed greenie, but I was not one of the thousands who rallied on the weekend. I am opposed to the carbon tax because it hurts the poor and lines the pockets of the rich, without doing anything real for the climate. Just 10% of this tax is earmarked for funding for renewable energy, with more than this amount (the government is very coy about the exact figure) to be given to the biggest polluters, as “compensation”. This is just business as usual — lots of money for the worst polluters and a few crumbs for renewables.
Australian climate scientists and researchers are subject to a rising level of hate mail, abuse and death threats from climate change deniers. More than 30 researchers told the June 4 Canberra Times “they are receiving a stream of abusive emails threatening violence, sexual assault, public smear campaigns and attacks on family members”.
"Since May 15, tens of thousands of young Spaniards calling themselves los indignados (the indignant) have been camping out in at least 80 city centres and towns, and are protesting daily," Socialist Alliance activist Liam Flenady told a June 7 Green Left Weekly forum. “The movement goes under various names: ¡Democracia Real Ya! (Real Democracy Now!), 15-M and even The Spanish Revolution, and its initial call was: ‘Real democracy now. We are not merchandise in the hands of the politicians and bankers!’."
Since March 2009, it has been unclear whether promising footballer Rex Bellotti Junior will need to have his leg amputated after he was run over by a police four wheel drive in Albany, Western Australia. The Indigenous boy, then 15, was leaving a wake when the police vehicle, driving on the wrong side of the road, struck him with sufficient force to drag him under the van, breaking his right femur and inflicting lacerations to his legs.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) organised a “save solar” rally in Newcastle on June 6. The rally was at the office of Liberal MLA Tim Owen and was the latest in a string of protests calling for planned retrospective cuts to NSW’s solar bonus scheme to be abandoned. The rally attracted about 250 people and included many solar industry workers. SEIA representative Chanti Richardson chaired the rally and introduced Solar Newcastle (SN) director Adam Dalby.
Evidently we are making progress as a nation in addressing the Indigenous development problem. On February 9, the prime minister delivered the Closing the Gap Prime Minister’s Report 2011. Progress is apparently happening: not according to any statistics, but to the powerful government public relations machine. In fact, the prime minister could provide little evidence about gap closing, except to tell us that the statistics are not readily available despite a commitment of nearly $50 million to this task.
Melbourne’s City of Yarra awarded the volunteer-run climate research group Beyond Zero Emissions its 2011 sustainability award for community action on June 2. BZE’s Melbourne group office is based in the Yarra council area. The council said: “Beyond Zero Emissions Inc. (BZE) is an independent, not-for-profit, volunteer-run organisation leading a ‘can do’ campaign for climate solutions grounded in commercially available technologies and peer-reviewed research.
Marrickville Mayor Fiona Byrne has received a letter of support from South African anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The letter appears below. * * * Dear Mayor Fiona Byrne, We in South Africa, who both suffered Apartheid and defeated it, have the moral right and responsibility to name and shame institutionalized separation, exclusion, and domination by one ethnic group over others. In my own eyes I have seen how the Palestinians are oppressed, dispossessed and exiled.
Blind Carbon Copy, June 4 — World Environment Day on June 5 was the Say Yes Australia rally called by an alliance of unions and NGOs like GetUp. A large number of environmentalists, including the Greens party, rightly rejected the last attempt of the government to set a carbon price, the “Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme”. It was shonky, riddled with loopholes big enough for a diesel-spewing truck to drive through.