Thousands rally for 100% renewables by 2020 … reports from Melbourne, Hobart, Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide, Wollongong, Brisbane, Perth, and Cairns
[See http://climateandcapitalism.com/?p=733 for photos and video]
Thousands took the streets on June 13 for the National Climate Emergency Rallies. Protesters declared a climate emergency and demanded the Australian government take emergency action on climate change.
The rallies were an initiative of the Climate Action Summit held in Canberra in January and were supported by a wide range of climate action groups, unions and other organisations.
Ben Courtice said more than 4000 protesters rallied in Melbourne, marching to protest the ALP state conference over state government policy as well as supporting the national climate rally demands.
Greens senator Bob Brown condemned the federal ALP, environment minister Peter Garrett in particular, for approving greenhouse-gas intensive projects.
United Firefighters Union secretary Peter Marshall said that although no scientist, “I can tell an emergency when I see one”. He cited intense bushfires that have occurred every year in one state or another for several years now.
The crowd responded enthusiastically to a call for the climate movement to organise blockades of coal power stations. Protesters staged a mass sit-in on the street outside the ALP conference before marching off again.
Tim Dobson said 1500 people gathered in the rain in Hobart on the Tasmanian parliament lawns to demand serious climate action in a rally organised by Climate Action Hobart.
Rally chair Jess Wright said “stopping climate change isn’t just an economics issue but a moral imperative for everyone.
The rally heard from climate scientist James Risby; John Todd, director of Eco Energy Options; Paul Oosting from the Wilderness society; Tasmanian secretary of the United Firefighters Union Richard Warwick and Greens senator Christine Milne.
In Sydney, Peter Boyle said 3000 people took part in a noisy and colourful march from Millers Point under the Sydney Harbour Bridge to PM Kevin Rudd’s Sydney offices. Protesters sat down in the street outside his office while some wrote messages to Rudd on large pieces of red cloth.
“Real climate action — yes we can! 100% renewables by 2020 — yes we can!”, the crowd chanted.
The rally was addressed by Maria Timon from the Pacific Calling Partnership; retired Hunter Valley coalminer Graham Brown; NSW Greens MLC Lee Rhiannon; Michael West from the Metropolitan Land Council; NSW secretary of the National Tertiary Education Union, Genevieve Kelly; and John Hepburn from Greenpeace.
Rally chair Simon Butler told the crowd that while the politicians were making compromises with the big polluters, “climate change does not do deals, it cannot be bought off and it will not negotiate. The science tells us we have to act now to shift to 100% renewable energy by 2020.”
Leigh Hughes said 600 people gathered in Canberra’s Garema Place for a climate emergency rally and festival.
Speakers included Richard Denniss from the Australia Institute; Kim Sattler from Unions ACT; Shane Ratenbury from the ACT Greens; Clayton McDonald from the Socialist Alliance; climate scientist Andrew Glikson and Emma Kefford from Climate Action Canberra.
Andrew Hall said 1500 enthusiastic people rallied and marched through Adelaide demanding 100% renewable energy by 2020. The rally was organised by the Climate Emergency Action Network.
Darren Ray, climate meteorologist for the Bureau of Meteorology cited rising sea levels to press the urgent need for action.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young told the crowd that the Greens reject the Rudd’s governments flawed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. Other speakers included the Australian Education Union, the Socialist Alliance and Friends of the Earth.
Chris Williams said 300 people marched through Wollongong to demand 100% renewable energy by 2020.
Speakers included Mark Raue from the Pacific Calling Partnership; Greens NSW MLC Sylvia Hale; Ben Van Der Wijngaarten, Deputy Mayor of Kiama; Jess Moore from the Socialist Alliance and Resistance, and Vanessa Organo, environment officer at Wollongong Undergraduate Students’ Association (WUSA).
“It is our right to take control of our future because we are going to be the ones living it. We will not be ignored and we will win a safe climate”, Organo said to huge cheers. The action was initiated by members of the Wollongong Climate Action Network and the WUSA Environment Collective.
Paul Benedek said a spirited rally of 600 people gathered in Queens Park in Brisbane.
Speakers included Murri leader, Sam Watson; Qld ETU secretary Peter Simpson; John MacKenzie from Friends of the Earth; Kirsten Kennedy from the Pine Rivers Climate Action Network and Larrissa Waters from Queensland Greens.
Rally co-chair Ewan Saunders said: “We demand that governments make the changes this planet needs immediately or we will take you out of your position because you have not acted responsibly.” To cheers, he also called for tens of thousands of green collar jobs.
Alex Bainbridge said 500 people marched through Perth in a rally organised by the WA Safe Climate Coalition. Speakers included the newly elected WA Greens member for Fremantle, Adele Carles, Sam Wainwright from the Socialist Alliance and Greens senator Rachel Siewert.
Behind the stage was a huge banner that read: “100% renewables by 2020″.
Jonathan Strauss said in Cairns climate activists built the city’s first light rail “station” outside local MP Jim Turnour’s office on June 12. The model platform and signage highlighted the demand for a comprehensive public transport system to help fight climate change.
The action was organised by Cairns Action for Sustainable Transport, Cairns and Far North Environment Centre, Cairns Bicycle Users Group and the Wilderness Society.