Climate

Break Free blocks Newcastle Harbour

About 3000 people, young and old, women, men and children, kayaked from Horseshoe Beach and blocked Newcastle Harbour to stop the coal ships on May 8. Organised by 350.org and other climate change campaigners, the Break Free event was a great success and also fun.

There was a large contingent of First Nations people from all around Australia and internationally, from Samoa and other Pacific islands that could disappear due to rising sea levels.

Head in the sand: Coalition and Labor squib on climate policy

Climate change was a glaring omission from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s address announcing the federal election. It has also been below the radar on the Labor’s campaign trail.

In contrast the Greens launched their election campaign at a protest on May 8 organised by climate group 350.org, which closed down the coal port of Newcastle. Greens leader Richard Di Natale said it was time Australia got serious about “tackling dangerous global warming”.

Three things you should know about Marxism and ecology

John Bellamy Foster is the editor of US-based Marxist journal Monthly Review. His most recent book, written with Paul Burkett, is Marx and the Earth: An Anti-Critique (Brill, 2016). The French magazine La Revue du Projet asked him to reply to three questions on ecology and Marxism. A translated version below is reprinted, slightly abridged, from Climate & Capitalism.

Canada: New climate warning as tar sands town burns

Fort McMurray, the city that serves as the hub of one of the world’s largest climate-wrecking projects, Canada’s Alberta tar sands, is burning to the ground due to wildfires sparked by unseasonably dry and hot weather.

The wildfires began at the end of April in forests west of the city. It worsened when strong winds carried the fires into the city, creating quasi-apocalyptic conditions. The city centre is burning, including the city hospital. Flights in and out of the airport were cancelled as of May 4.

'Citizen scientists' force VicForests to halt logging

Volunteer conservationists forced a last minute stay of execution for a section of forest near Toolangi that they had shown was home to the critically endangered Leadbeater's possum, which VicForests contractors were due to clearfell within days.

Despite finding evidence of the possum in mid-April, posted as a video on facebook, “citizen scientists” monitoring logging operations were alarmed on May 4 to find the Imperium logging coupe where the possum was found was due to commence logging any day.

Abnormal Autumn: temperature records tumble again

The Climate Council released this statement on May 2.

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Climate records have tumbled during autumn with records shattered all over Australia. New records for the highest average monthly maximum temperature were set in April in Brisbane, Darwin and Hobart.

Almost all of Australia's capital cities recorded at least 20 days with above-average maximum temperatures.

The warm temperatures follow a record-breaking March in which Australia's average temperature was the warmest on record at 1.70°C above average.

Anti-fracking protesters take aim at Santos

About 100 protesters, adorned in yellow and black berets, skirts, scarves, blouses, dresses and umbrellas gathered outside the Santos HQ near Circular Quay on May 4 to tell Santos to frack off from the Pilliga, near Narrabri. With them, sitting in a nearby tree, was a huge koala — symbolising one the endangered species whose habitat is being destroyed.

Protests were also held in Brisbane, Newcastle and at the company’s headquarters in Adelaide where the new CEO was fronting his first AGM. Santos has lost more than $1 billion on its coal seam gas (CSG) project at Narrabri.

ACT commits to 100% renewable energy by 2020

The ACT Labor government has boosted its commitment to renewable energy still further, announcing Canberra will be fully powered by renewables by 2020.

The switch to renewable energy began with the decision in 2013 to fund three solar farms. Since then, it has held two wind auctions and signed 20-year contracts with four companies to buy energy for a guaranteed payment from wind farms in South Australia, Victoria and NSW.

Environment Minister Simon Corbell said Canberra was leading the nation on renewables, and reaping the benefits.

Vale John Kaye: defender of public education and renewables

A conspicuous absence from the weekend No Coal protests in Newcastle will be Greens MP John Kaye.

He would have certainly been there but for his sudden death on May 2 aged 60 of bone cancer. His death has robbed us all of an incomparable champion of the environment and the public interest.

John was widely known as the author of a plan to convert NSW to 100% renewable energy by 2030 and as the staunchest parliamentary champion of public education in the country.

This federal budget continues to attack youth

Treasurer Scott Morrison presented his budget for 2016-17 on May 3. What does it mean for young people today? Does it address higher education and growing youth unemployment? No.

From April 1 next year, jobseekers under 25 who are receiving welfare payments such as Newstart and have been looking for a job for at least six months, will be able to participate in intensive pre-employment skills training within five months of registering with the Centrelink program “jobactive”.

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