Hundreds march for survival

April 2, 2011

More than 200 people took to Adelaide’s streets on March 26 in the first March for Survival.

Organised by the Climate Emergency Action Network (CLEAN) the protest called on people to support victims of the recent floods, cyclones and bushfires and to demand serious emission cuts (60% of 1990 levels by 2020) and 100% renewable energy by 2020.

CLEAN’s John Rice introduced the rally. “For me the enduring image of these disasters is that of the Lockyer Valley and the foundation slab of a house which was swept away, taking the entire family inside,” he said.

“Climate change is claiming its victims, and it’s doing it on an ever increasing and more frequent scale … and all this [with] only 0.8°C [average temperature] increase since 1750.

“Many climate science projections now suggest that this will increase to 4-5°C by the end of this century if the current inaction continues … how many Lockyer Valleys will we have by then?”

Rice reflected on the gains the climate movement had made. “It’s the presence and pressure of people and groups like ourselves that have forced the Labor party into an embarrassing but important U-turn on climate change policies”.

He also hailed the potential closure of the Playford B coal-fired power station at Port Augusta by 2015 — a long-term goal of CLEAN SA — as a result of a price on carbon.

But Rice also said: “A carbon price will not be sufficient to stimulate the solar and wind energy we know is the answer to the carbon problem. We could end up simply stimulating the gas industry, with all the attendant problems of coal seam gas, fracking, and polluting underground water, let alone still burning megatons of carbon.

“Only a serious rethink of our Renewable Energy Targets and robust and generous Feed-in Tariffs will give sufficient encouragement to the solar and wind industries to enable the kind of rollout we need to achieve the minimum of 60% carbon emission reduction by 2020 the climate science is telling us we need.”

Greens senator-elect Penny Wright told the crowd: “The Greens are seeking to create a green, healthy and prosperous Australia by transforming our economy into a low-carbon economy which is rich in green jobs and fuelled by clean, renewable energy.

“To achieve this we need a price on pollution to make polluting activities more expensive and less attractive. And if we make the polluters pay then we can use the income to help those householders most affected and invest in clean energy and reforms like public transport.”

“A price on pollution is not the whole answer to transforming our economy,” she continued.

“We also need strategies like energy efficiency, improved public transport, more efficient infrastructure, a national feed-in tariff and protecting the natural storage of carbon in our forests. A price on pollution is not the only action we need but it is a crucial component.”

The Australian Youth Climate Coalition’s Daniel Lynch told the crowd: “What we need to demand is a high price per tonne of carbon emissions. We need a strong price on pollution so that businesses are responsible for the pollution that they emit.”

Martin O’Malley, the state secretary of the Construction Foresty Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) also addressed the crowd.

He pointed out that while some view the CFMEU’s interests as being opposed to the environment, the reality is that many jobs can be created in environmental repair and sustainability.

The crowd cheered when O’Malley said carbon polluters shouldn’t just be taxed — they should be jailed.

The march stopped outside the ANZ bank where Gemma Weedall, of the socialist youth organisation Resistance, accused ANZ and the other big banks of propping up the dirty coal industry.

She said that a “carbon tax is, at best, only a secondary policy. It’s not good enough by itself. It’s likely to shift investment to gas and doesn’t end subsidies to coal industry.

“We need emissions cuts in line with the science and direct investment in 100% renewables. If you want a hospital, you don’t put in place a market mechanism that might possibly result in a hospital being built, you just build the hospital”.

Other speakers that addressed the rally included executive director of the South Australian Council of Social Services Ross Womersley, Doctors for the Environment’s Dr Hubertus Jersmann, 100% Renewables campaigner Kirrilee Boyd and CLEAN’s Ian Carmen.

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