More than 400 people marched in Gadi/Sydney on World Environment Day on June 5, chanting "No new coal and gas" and "Repeal the anti-protest laws". The protest, organised by the Sydney Climate Coalition (SCC), was endorsed by more than 50 unions, environmental and political groups.
These included: School Strike for Climate (SS4C), Sydney Knitting Nannas, Workers for Climate Action, Water for Rivers, NSW Nature Conservation Council, 350.org, NSW Civil Liberties Council, Wage Peace Disrupt War, Construction Division of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), National Tertiary Education Union (NSW), Electrical Trades Union (NSW), Maritime Union of Australia Sydney, NSW Nurses and Midwives Association, Lock and Gate, Amnesty International, Move Beyond Coal, Independent Education Union, Socialist Alliance, Solidarity, NSW Greens, Extinction Rebellion Drummers, Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) and Australian Youth Climate Coalition.
Gomeroi man Raymond “Bubbly” Weatherall told the rally in Hyde Park about the campaign to save the Pilliga Forest from Santos’ coal seam gas mining plans.
Weatherall said that defeating Santos would “inspire other Aboriginal people to say no, stop coming onto our land and killing it”. He said mining companies and governments “work hand-in-hand to destroy every single part of Aboriginal land across this whole country, and it’s unacceptable.
“Ever since the federal and state Labor governments got in, they've done nothing to support us. Climate change is happening out on Gomeroi country right now. There has to be a change. With a collective voice, it can happen.
“We're willing to fight for our country with all our strength. It's happening right now — all across Australia, from the Tiwi Islands south”.
Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi said Australia was an “international climate criminal” because of how much coal is exported to other countries. Australia is one of the biggest coal exporters in the world.
Protesters marched down Macquarie Street, occupying the road outside NSW Parliament for almost an hour. CFMEU Construction Division NSW secretary Darren Greenfield, Olivia Freeman from the Environmental Defenders Office, Deen Kafina from SS4C and Fahimah Badrulhisham from the ARRCC, addressed the crowd highlighting the need for urgent action on the climate.
They also called for the draconian anti-protest laws across the country, which are targeting climate protesters, to be scrapped.
“The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says urgent action to drastically reduce emissions is required to avoid catastrophic climate change. This means an immediate end to the expansion of the fossil fuel industry and a rapid transition to sustainable industries for workers and communities currently reliant on fossil fuels,” the SCC said.
It added that new Labor government must stop expanding fossil fuels, including the Santos Pilliga (Narrabri) gas project and stop supporting draconian anti-protest laws “aimed at stopping climate activism.”
Sue Bull reports that climate and anti-war activists came together in Djilang/Geelong on June 4 for World Environment Day.
Speakers included Greens MLC Sarah Mansfield, Andy Meddick from the Animal Justice Party, Jaimie Jeffries from IPAN Geelong & Victoria South West, Tony Gleeson from Extinction Rebellion and Darcy Dunn, a campaigner from Australian Conservation Foundation Community Geelong, who has been leading the campaign against Viva Energies proposed gas import terminal in Corio Bay.
Rally organiser and MC Sarah Hathway said the world is facing a 50% chance of rising above 1.5°C within five years.
“You would think that the federal government would be doing everything it can to limit the climate catastrophe. Instead [environment] minister Tanya Plibersek has recently approved a new coal mine in Central Queensland — the Isaac River coal mine — which will produce about 500,000 tonnes of metallurgical coal each year for five years. She has also allowed three other mines — two in New South Wales and one in Queensland — to proceed to the next stage of environmental assessment.”
Mansfield and Meddick spoke about the importance of grassroots community campaigns to get MPs to take action.
Niko Leka reports that Rising Tide organised a candlelit vigil in Muloobinba/Newcastle to mark World Environment Day. More than 40,000 tonnes of coal are exported from Newcastle Port every day.
Rising Tide delivered letters to the CEOs of coal companies, calling on them to suspend coal exports for the day.
He said there was an eerie and solemn atmosphere, while speakers were occasionally drowned out by passing coal trains.
Attendees laid out 226 pairs of shoes to mark the people who each day will lose their lives due to climate change.
Rev Alan Stuart, from the Uniting Church, said “when you think of the 82,000 people [will die from climate change impacts] don't think, 'Oh that's 226 a day', think instead: 'Those 226 funerals mean families have been devastated, parents are grieving for their children, children are grieving for their parents.
“Newcastle contributes so much to climate change and I ask you all to continue your opposition. Only if we can stop climate change can we reduce these horrific statistics.”
Retired Minister Doug Hewitt read out a Dolly Parton lyric as a testament to resolve to end coal exports: “Liar, liar, the world's on fire; What'cha gonna do when it all burns down? Fire, fire, burning higher, we still go time to turn it around.”
[Rising Tide is planning a two-day blockade of Newcastle port over November 25–26. Find out more.]
[The Sydney Climate Coalition is organising a Climate Action Conference on July 29, from 11am at Redfern Town Hall, 73 Pitt Street, Redfern. Contact email@example.com. [Rising Tide is planning a two-day blockade of Newcastle port over November 25–26. Find out more.]