Come camp for climate action!

May 17, 2008

The following statement is from the Climate Camp organising committee.

The Camp for Climate Action, beginning on July 10, will be an inspiring convergence of people from all over Australia who are serious about taking action on climate change. It will take place in Newcastle, NSW, which already has the world's biggest coal port and is set for a massive expansion.

Coal is destroying the climate and threatening our future. Our choice is clear: we need action not more hot air. We need a just transition from coal to clean energy — not an expansion of the coal industry.

If you're tired of meaningless rhetoric and inaction on climate change, come to the Camp for Climate Action and help shut down the coal port.

The five-day camp will take place in a participatory, sustainable environment where people are invited to share ideas, learn and take action. Timed to coincide with climate camps happening in Europe and North America, it will be an inspiring gathering of people of all ages and from all walks of life, who are standing up together to take direct action for a liveable future.

Climate change is the fundamental issue of our time. Over the past three years, thousands of people across Australia have taken to the streets and marched against global warming. Grassroots climate action groups have sprung up all over the country. In 2007, we turned our backs on a government that had failed to heed the calls for action on climate change. Now all eyes are on Labor.

Distant targets, emissions trading and ratifying Kyoto are not enough to solve climate change. Yet the Labor Party is still right behind Australia's biggest contribution to climate change — coal. Greenhouse gas emissions from our coal exports already exceed those we produce domestically. Yet state governments continue to approve mine after mine and fund new infrastructure for the industry, while the Rudd government has promised more than $500 million to the coal barons for a technology that does not exist — "clean" coal.

It is clear that if we, the people, leave the response to climate change to politicians and corporations, we face devastating worst-case scenarios for the entire planet and the future.

Newcastle, home to the world's biggest coal port, is at the coalface of climate change. Recent government approvals for new coal infrastructure mean that the annual export capacity will increase from 80 million tonnes to 211 million tonnes. That's equivalent to Australia's entire domestic greenhouse gas pollution from all sources.

The new export terminal is the project of the Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group (NCIG), spearheaded by BHP Billiton. The NCIG was formed to rival Port Waratah Coal Services, which runs the current two loaders and which is controlled by Xstrata, Anglo and Rio Tinto, the other three members of the "big four" mining companies that dominate the NSW and Queensland coal fields.

The plan to increase the coal export capacity of the Hunter region is utterly at odds with the urgent reality of global climate change which requires global greenhouse pollution — and therefore coal consumption — to be radically reduced, starting now.

Of course, the coal would have to be dug up from somewhere, and the poor old Hunter Valley, already creaking with the strain of 30-odd mines, would be further sacrificed. New areas previously outside the clutches of open-cut coal mining are being billed as the new frontiers.

The Hunter Valley coal chain that supplies Newcastle Harbour continues to devastate the landscape with vast open-cut coal mines.

Threatened species, tight-knit communities, rivers and aquifers are all sacrificed at the alter of coal, by governments incapable of saying "no" to the coal lobby.

The NSW Iemma government recently approved a huge open-cut mine for Anvil Hill, an iconic and biodiverse site in the Hunter. The mine will contribute 10 million tonnes of coal a year (the greenhouse equivalent of the entire transport sector of NSW) to Newcastle's output.

The Hunter Valley is fast proving a contested space, as the community begins to challenge the entrenched dominance of coal over this region. We invite you to converge at the heart of the coal industry's lair, to help us reclaim the Hunter, for the future of the rest of the world.

[For more information on the Climate Camp, visit]

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