Protesters from more than twenty contingents demonstrated at City Hall yesterday against the Albanian government’s “inadequate” target of reducing emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 and Labor Party support for coal and gas projects including Scarborough in WA and Narrabri Pilliga in NSW.
At yesterday’s rally, organized by Workers for Climate Action and School Strike for Climate and supported by a coalition of more than twenty contingents of activist collectives from across the state, a number of speakers were seen emerging from the steps of City Hall addressed to the protesters.
The protesters’ demands include a call to end all new fossil fuel projects, mass public investment in renewable energy, the right of First Nations to control developments on their lands, a just transition for workers in the fossil fuel industry and protesting respect for the law.
Wiradjuri, Yuin and Gadigal activist Nadeena Dixon, a multidisciplinary artist and granddaughter of legendary Indigenous activist Charles “Chicka” Dixon, gave a Welcome to Country. Painted ocher and dressed in a traditional skin coat, Dixon proudly declared, “We are strong, we are vigilant and we speak out for Mother Earth”.
“Ngalga Nura – we see land. Ngarala duba – we’re listening to country,” she said.
Kayla Hill, organizer of the school strike for climate and co-chair of the rally, criticized the Albanian government’s 43 percent emissions target and its “continued enabling of climate damage”.
“It’s time for the Albanian government to do more than 43 percent and net zero,” Hill said.
Caitlin Doyle, organizer of Workers for Climate Action and deputy leader of the rally, lamented Labour’s stagnation on climate action after the general election in May.
“Climate change was the focus of the elections. But the government continues to wage war on the planet and supports fossil fuel projects like the Whitehaven Coal Mine and the Kurri-Kurri Gas Works,” Doyle said.
The unions present spoke about the impact of the climate crisis on essential workers. Sarah Ellyard, a member of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association’s Climate Change Reference Group, outlined the climate-related issues facing frontline workers.
“I am part of a union that recognizes climate change as a global emergency. We submitted papers on the health effects of coal-fired power plants,” Ellyard said.
“The geographic reach of infectious diseases, population displacement, food and water insecurity, and adverse mental health impacts. Frontline workers must grapple with the consequences of inaction on climate change,” she said.
Gomeroi and Ngunnawal man Barraay Bamba Gulbiir, also known as Joshur Bell, spoke at the rally in relation to gas giant Santos’ efforts to override Gomeroi indigenous people’s rights to 850 gas wells in the Pilliga Forest in the northwest to build from NSW.
“Over the last week we have seen the Tiwi Island mob take Santos to court for failing to consult with the rightful owners of waters they exploit for gas,” Bell said.
“We recently repelled the Shenhua coal mine and are organizing to defeat Santos and the expansion of coal mining that has also been proposed for our country. If we don’t, it will be catastrophic for the climate, our land and our waters,” he said.
“First Nations people, our way of life, must be put in the driver’s seat to stop the climate crisis that is threatening all people.
“We may have an unprecedented number of tribal peoples in the new parliament, but the destruction of fossil fuels continues, so we need an unprecedented number on the streets to build people’s power,” he said.
Also attending the rally was Green Party Senator David Shoebridge, who roused the crowd with some acts before the march from City Hall to Santos’ headquarters on Bligh Street.
“Labour failed to deliver on the promise voted for by millions of Australians. They didn’t vote for 43 percent, they voted to save the planet,” Shoebridge said.
“We have a message for you: if this is your ‘plan B’ then we have a ‘plan A’ and that is to kick you out in the next election. One planet, one fight, one fight. We’re in it to win it,” he said.
Speakers also announced plans for a major mobilization during the COP27 conference in November. As Australian officials travel to Egypt for the conference, protesters plan to take to the streets to demand an end to Australia’s fossil fuel expansion.