SA Climate Camp condemns dirty energy

Saturday, October 10, 2009 - 11:00

South Australian Climate Camp activists declared the state's first climate camp a great success.

On September 26, a crowd of 50 gathered outside two Port Augusta coal-fired power stations to demand that the ageing, inefficient stations be closed and replaced with renewable energy.

Authorities declared the power stations a "protected area" under the Protective Security Act 2007 for the period of the Climate Camp.

The protesters marched two kilometres through the protected area until 150 police, including mounted police and a canine unit, stopped them.

A Community Decommission Order and 350 native flowers — representing the 350 parts per million of atmospheric carbon dioxide, which is to be considered the upper limit for a safe climate — were presented at the gate and speakers addressed the crowd.

The action took place as part of a four-day camp that featured a range of workshops on the science and politics of climate change.

Participants stressed the need for a just transition for workers in the region. More jobs could be created in renewable energy than are now provided by the two power stations.

The activists also called on the federal government to scrap the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, take measures to genuinely cut Australia's emissions and switch immediately to renewable energy.

Julie Jordan, an activist with Climate Camp, told Green Left Weekly: "We've taken some important steps over the weekend to highlight the urgent necessity to switch off coal-fired power stations and engage regional communities in the necessary switch to renewable energy."

The longest coal train in the world runs from the Leigh Creek mine to Port Augusta Power station. In the lead-up to climate camp, activists had discussed taking non-violent direct action against the train line.

Although Climate Camp activists resolved to hold a peaceful protest outside the gates of the power station, they also advised Flinders Power to suspend the train over the weekend in the interests of public safety.

In a September 25 media release, South Australian Police said, "following discussions between police, event organisers and Flinders Power, it has been decided that the coal train will be suspended over the weekend".

However, the September 27 Coober Pedy Regional Times reported the train ran that morning, before it was derailed due to a technical fault. Flinders Power later claimed the agreed weekend suspension "did not include Sunday".

Resistance activist Josh Lane told GLW that the South Australian Police and Flinders Power had deliberately undermined the agreement.

"The climate emergency movement in South Australia is continuing to grow regardless of the police's disproportionate response to peaceful protesters and their failure to negotiate honestly", he said.

The weekend's events included a public forum held in the town on September 25. Climate activists plan to return to Port Augusta to develop links with the local community.

Lane said: "Climate Camp was inspiring but also highlighted various weak points in the movement. The next major event for the climate movement in Adelaide is a protest on October 24, which includes a bike and car cavalcade to call for 100% renewable energy by 2020.

"Activists are also discussing future climate camps, such as Goolwa, to highlight the plight of the Murray River. Resistance will be doing all we can to build these actions to help tackle the climate emergency."

From GLW issue 813

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