on Sep 5, 2012 ; Category: Climate Change, Coal, Melbourne, Non-Violent Direct Action

First we heard how much coal power was costing us, impacting on our health, devastating vital ecosystems and draining the national budget.

Then there was the news of the increased risk of cancer among coal workers in Newcastle.

Then there was the news of the record sea-ice melt in the Arctic, caused primarily by our ongoing use of fossil fuels.

All this came on top of the Baillieu government’s recent $45 million grant for new coal projects in the Latrobe Valley.

All of these things and everything we already knew led us to remind the state government of what Professor James Hansen from NASA, one of the most respected climate scientists in the USA, said:

Coal is the single greatest threat to civilisation and all life on our planet.

And to ask:

Why is Baillieu funding coal?

On Monday the 3rd of September, a crew of four climbed onto the roof of Parliament House in Melbourne and unfurled the 86m2 banner saying just this, with two climbers abseiling down to hold the bottom corners. Simultaneously, nine others locked onto the pillars at the front of the building, below the banner.

We risked being arrested and fined because the rest of Australia needs to know that a Baillieu’s plan for a brown coal export industry would effectively triple Victoria’s contribution to dangerous global warming. This is the equivalent of putting 70 million more cars on the road.

We sat locked in chains or dangling from ropes in an attempt to remind people of the disastrous effects that digging up and burning coal will have, in Victoria and all over the world.

We did all this because Australia is already the world’s biggest exporter of coal and coal is the single biggest contributor to dangerous global warming; and because we don’t want Victoria to be turned into a brown coal quarry.

We demanded that Ted Baillieu retract his $45 million fund for a brown coal export industry, as a first step in breaking his brown coal addiction.

Unsurprisingly, the Premier continued to ignore the urgent need for action, despite the fact that it was spelt out for him in black and white, on an 86m² banner, at his place of work. Quit Coal spokes-sista Katy Smyrk

It took four hours for the police to cut off the nine people locked below, as well as one of the climbers who had locked on to the top corner of the banner. After cutting the last person off,  a search and rescue officer abseiled down,  (rudely!) slashing our banner with a stanley knife. The two remaining abseilers agreed to climb back up after hanging in their harnesses for over four hours.

The banner was destroyed but the message remains clear. Quit Coal will continue to challenge the Baillieu government’s myopic support for fossil fuels.