The call for action by striking school students at the Bondi Beach Climate Rally in Sydney on Friday 3rd May was crystal clear: Stop the Adani coal mine; no to new coal oil and gas projects; shift to 100% renewable energy in Australia by 2030 ~ oh, and vote accordingly.
Organised by Australia's broad student movement Schools Strike for Climate as a parallel nationwide strike in solidarity with international protests of a similar nature the Bondi Beach Climate Rally drew a reasonable crowd of participants and onlookers considering the inclement weather.
“The future of the human species relies on us fixing this pressing issue and without a solution nothing else will matter. No politicians will be around to put policies together for an Australia that does’t exist if we don’t act NOW!” Declared one student striker.
“Although we are a small part of Sydney, and an even smaller part of Australia, we can still stand in solidarity with thousands. Know what you’re voting for, let’s make this the climate election!”, urged another to warm applause.
The students lead by passionate young women no doubt inspired by teenage activist Greta Thunberg, drew on a provocative set of themes espoused through a combination of poetry and good-old-fashioned agitation ~ something not often experienced in the rather laid-back and hedonistic environs of Bondi Beach.
Michael Wright, local activist on behalf of #stopadani stated, “The Adani mine is the thin end of the wedge. It is going to be a major contributor to catastrophic climate change which faces not only Australia, but the rest of the world.” Mr Wright explained that Australia’s coal exports have doubled in the last 18 years, “and we cannot say that this is not our problem because it is one planet and its being burnt on our planet so we need to stop that now. The Adani mine is one of many mines that would be opened in the Carmichael and Galilee basins and that must not happen.”
According to Mr. Wright, the Galilee basin is part of the great artesian basin which is as significant to Australian ecology and livelihood as the Great Barrier Reef in that its water supplies a great extent of Australia, “from the Gulf of Carpinteria, through Queensland, New South Wales right through to Victoria. This is not something that we can afford to have happen”.
Speaking on the UK parliament's decision to declare a “climate emergency” Mr Wright enthused, “the point is that it puts climate change on the same level as a war footing, which means any decision made within the UK from now on will have to made in terms if its impact on climate change”.
Independent candidate Dr. Kerryn Phelps took a moderate line declaring, “we must not put tax-payer's money into new fossil fuel projects, and we must not put tax-payer’s money into propping up ageing coal-fired power stations”, but rather into renewable energy technologies. Dr Phelps called on the 'ingenuity of Australia' to deliver on the abundance of sun, wind and water sources of electricity for future generations.
Motivating towards 100% renewables by 2030, Green Party candidate Dominic Kanak stated, “If you look at the number of coal mines that are due to come on line in New South Wales, together, they are bigger than Adani, so this is not just a fight about Adani… we have to have a moratorium on all new coal mines.”, to enthusiastic applause. He went on, “and we aren’t going to leave anyone behind we are going to create 180 000 new jobs in the green energy sector by creating a super profits tax (of the conventional industry) to go towards the creation of new jobs in a transitional energy industry."
Labour candidate Tim Murray said, “This election is about climate and young people will decide who the next government is”. Mr Murray explained that while over 60% of Wentworth’s population live in apartment buildings, current legislation prevents the adaptation of these buildings to solar power, and as a consequence the affluent Eastern Suburbs have some of the lowest solar energy uptake in all of Australia. “So I’ve started a community group called the Wentworth Solar Station to solve that problem.” In a statement that goes against the global protest mood which is calling for far greater government intervention in tackling climate change, Mr Murray said, “To get to 100% renewable by 2030 is not a simple issue, and its not something we can outsource to government, there are certain decisions we need to make as consumers to make sure that happens.”
The students on the other hand were clearly arguing that the most important climate crisis decisions must be made at the ballot box.
Climate Change Cities has made contact with Schools Strike for Climate for further information and crediting of the student speakers ~ this post will be updated with that information when it becomes available.