By David Unwin
It’s probably fair to say that it has been a disappointing few months for Australians who want serious action on climate change.
While parts of Australia go up in flames (in what is likely to be the hottest year on record), Tony Abbott has systematically gone about dismantling virtually every initiative aimed at lessening Australia’s role in causing catastrophic climate change.
Add to the mix, Australia being MIA from climate negotiations in Warsaw and the government screeching about having the ‘people’s mandate’ to repeal a price on pollution – and you have the ingredients needed to get 30,000 passionate (if not furious) people down to Treasury Gardens demanding climate action.
The Melbourne event, organised by GetUp in coalition with local and national community groups, was by far the largest of the 130 that took place around Australia for the national day of action. In total, 60,000 people across the country came for the rallies.
From Quit Coal’s stall next to the main stage, it was impossible to make out the end of the mammoth crowd of ordinary Victorians refusing to let Australia lag behind the rest of the world on climate action.
Speakers for the event, including representatives from political parties, unions and community groups made sure the crowd got the inspirational chat they were craving.
Peter Marshall, from the Fire Brigade Employees Union spoke of the increased risks brought to communities and fire fighters in bushfire prone areas by hotter, dryer conditions. The crowd roared as he assured them that ‘there are no sceptics on the end of a fire hose’.
The atmosphere got even hotter (J) when Tim Flannery from the Climate Council urged the crowd not to “leave a matter as important as climate change to the fickleness and whim of Australia’s politicians.” Judging by the response, there was not a single person present who had any intention of doing so.
While all this was going on, a group of awesome Quit Coal volunteers trawled through the crowd getting support for our call for an immediate halt on all new coal and onshore gas projects in Victoria. Why? Because if we have any chance of mitigating dangerous climate change – then you have to keep the coal in the hole.
All in all we managed to chat to nearly 1000 people. At some points people were lining up to sign the petition. Given that the government is on the verge of making a decision as to whether to allocate another 13 billion tonnes of brown coal in the Latrobe Valley, each of these conversations were invaluable.
As the crowds dispersed after a truly inspiring day, the message to government was clear.
Climate action now!