anti-coal

About 40 people attended the launch of a No New Coal campaign by Safe Climate Perth on October 10. The launch took place as part of the 350.org “global work party” — an international day of action involving more than 7000 events around the world.

As part of the campaign, activists aim to get 10,000 signatures in 10 weeks on a petition opposing new coal developments in Western Australian.

Gippsland unions and community organisations took part in the fourth in a series of “transition jobs seminars”. The seminar took place on October 13 under the auspices of the Gippsland Trades and Labour Council (GTLC) and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT).

It dealt with the region’s current skills base in brown-coal mining, dairy and other industries, and the sort of training needed to skill workers for environmentally sustainable production.

The “Switch off Hazelwood, Switch on Renewable Energy” protest targeted Australia’s dirtiest coal-fired power station, in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, on October 10. It was successful but muted in contrast to its predecessor in 2009.

The mood was no less festive, but this year, there was no climate camp, no mass actions and no arrests.

It’s close to an article of faith among environmentalists that using less energy is a big part of the solution to climate change. Energy efficiency is often said to be the “low hanging fruit” of climate policy.

On face value, the benefits seem obvious.

The knowledge needed to make big gains in efficiency already exists. Using less energy will save consumers and industry money, whereas other policies will be costly. And most importantly, lower energy use could make a big dent in global greenhouse gas emissions.

In “The Return of Dr Strangelove”, a September 6 lecture hosted by Melbourne University and Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE), Clive Hamilton, author of Affluenza, Scorcher and Requiem for a Species gave a short history of the research and investment in geo-engineering solutions to global warming.

A move from fossil fuels to renewable energy is the logical “Plan A” response to human-caused climate change, but such a response would threaten corporate profits.

On September 26, protesters from climate change activist group Rising Tide shut down the world’s largest coal port at Newcastle. Green Left Weekly’s Zane Alcorn interviewed Rising Tide member Annika Dean.

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What happened at the protest?

Leaked documents revealed by the September 23 Sydney Morning Herald show large coal companies colluded to begin coal-seam gas mining under Sydney’s drinking water catchment.

The documents show gas-drilling company Apex Energy NL agreed to help Peabody Energy distance itself from bad publicity arising out of a proposal to begin coal-seam gas mining at the Metropolitan Colliery.

Apex was to expand the colliery without mentioning the coal-seam gas aspect of the expansion, which had the potential to contaminate water supplies.

Local climate action group Safe Climate has planned a campaign calling on the Western Australian government to reverse approval for five new and refurbished coal-fired power stations.

The campaign will include: an ambitious goal to get 10,000 signatures on a petition opposing the new coal developments before the end of the year; a poster design campaign; and a rally in December.

Safe Climate is also discussing possible civil disobedience actions.

The campaign will be launched at an October 10 action, as part of the 350.org 10/10/10 Global Work Party day of action.

Green Left Weekly’s Simon Butler asked five Australian climate activists for their thoughts on the current state of the movement.

Phillip Sutton is the convenor of Melbourne’s Climate Emergency Network and co-author of the 2008 book Climate Code Red.

Adam Lucas is coordinator of Beyond Zero Emissions Sydney and lectures in the Science and Technology Studies Program at the University of Wollongong.

On October 10, climate activists will converge on the Hazelwood power station in the Latrobe Valley in eastern Victoria. They will use mirrors to try to create Victoria's “first solar thermal power” station at the Hazelwood gate, to show solar is a viable alternative.

Shaun Murray from campaign group Switch off Hazelwood told Green Left Weekly: “Hazelwood is the most carbon-intensive power station in Australia relative to its output, and has been an ongoing target by climate campaigners.”

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