Melbourne climate emergency rally planned

May 31, 2008

A climate emergency rally to be held in Melbourne on July 5 has been endorsed by more than 30 groups and more have indicated they will support it.

Rally organiser Ben Courtice told Green Left Weekly: "The climate crisis as the most obvious manifestation of our society being unsustainable ... We have peak oil, water and food shortages, and new diseases springing up. It is an all-of-system crisis, encompassing so many aspects of our society.

"It's important to draw together the sectoral issues that people are concerned about and link them with the one theme of climate emergency so we can all support each other's campaigns and concerns. I started putting out the idea about this rally at the climate convergence in Melbourne in February, which had a large bunch of different groups represented. Out of that conference came the Climate Emergency Network, which is drawing together some of those groups into a lasting structure. We also gathered support for a climate emergency rally."

The climate emergency rally links climate action groups with local campaigns against the Wonthaggi desalination plant, more freeways and dredging in Port Phillip Bay. Courtice told GLW, "The earlier mass rallies such as Walk Against Warming were great for raising awareness, but they let the governments off the hook. The climate emergency rally is broad and diverse ... with demands definitely aimed at governments, which while signing Kyoto and talking about fixing climate change with emissions trading, are expanding coalmining, building more freeways, encouraging higher energy use and so on."

Another rally organiser, Tim Forcey, told GLW: "I am an engineer and I have heard about global warming since 1988. Then I read up about peak oil; that made me realise that society needs to move on to renewable energy.

"I like the beach and we're losing it by 3mm a year because of global warming. That's when I started going around the beach with the global warming poll. Then my wife got involved, and she and her friend started the Bayside Climate Change Action Group ... We organised a meeting of local candidates in the state elections at Sandringham and got such a good turnout that we formed the group out of that meeting.

"We did a human sign with 2000 people on the Sandringham beach in April 2007. It spelled out 'Halt climate change now!' It was to get people to join in a protest [and] a good way for groups to get together and send out the message of climate change to the government. That's why we are supporting this climate emergency rally."

Courtice added, "When I was about 12, the local newspaper printed a picture of my town, Hobart, under 60 metres of ocean. That was in the 1980s when everyone was worried about environmental issues. During the 1990s the climate-denial lobby made it hard to get traction with the issue. I'm happy that has changed radically now."

For information about the climate emergency rally, visit

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