Communist Party of Australia

We acknowledge the Sovereignty of the First Nations’ Peoples.

Issue #1905      March 2, 2020

National Climate Action Report – Fremantle, WA

The National Day of Climate Action in Western Australia was held in Fremantle (Walylup).

The rally was opened with a welcome to country by Aunty Maureen Mingili who compared the ongoing destruction of the environment and ensuing climate change to the destruction of her people’s land when the white settlers came – remembering the ripping up of the bush and setting fire to it as a child. Mingili added that the health of the land is what contributes to good health from an Indigenous person’s perspective. Present at the rally were a group of men and women dressed in blood red robes and whitened faces. This group called themselves the Red Rebels (a sect of Extinction Rebellion), and their presentation was a representation of the climate apocalypse. Many protesters found their presence to be disturbing and off putting – that was their aim.

A spokeswoman from the campaign to save native forests in the south west said that we are living in a time of a climate emergency which was made evident through the latest report released in August 2019 from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which stated deforestation accounts for one third of all carbon emissions. The spokeswoman added, “Forests have a right to exist of and by themselves.” Despite the huge campaign waged in the early 2000s to save old growth forests – which resulted in large areas being set aside in reserves, old growth forests are still being cut down in the form of karri trees which are sent to the Diamond Mill near Pemberton for woodchips and the jarrah forests which are being cut down near Nannup to supply the smelter at Kemberton with charcoal as part of the process of making silica.

Greens Member of the Legislative Council, Tim Clifford, said the political system is sick as it seems incapable of getting its priorities right. Woodside, Chevron, and Shell are proceeding with their development of the Burrup Hub and Browse Basin projects which will prove to be an, “unmitigated disaster” of which the cumulative emissions will be four times greater than the Adani Coal project in Queensland.

Clifford said these extractive industries, “use a different type of language,” which allows them to ignore the environmental consequences in their pursuit of profits. But the actions of these corporations and the acquiescence by the state and federal governments make it look like, “we are in a bus heading into a brick wall.” The corporations make their money and then leave town.

Katie and Amy from School Strike for Climate Change were next to appear. They were promoting their next action for climate justice on 15th May, to build on from their last rally on 20th September 2019, when 15,000 people turned out to protest. Part of their demands include, “No new gas or coal projects,” “All renewables by 2030,” and “Just transition for workers in the non-renewable energy sector.” We have had a number of climate related disasters during 2019 as well as record dry and heat spells throughout the world, including the bush fires of the eastern states from September till February 2020. In Kenya and Sudan, it has led to the worst locust outbreak in twenty-five years as clouds of locusts devour the food needed by humanity in that region of Africa which has vacillated in recent years between drought and flood.

Kerry from the Anti-Nuclear Alliance addressed the rally on the campaign against uranium mining and nuclear energy and spoke of its success in ensuring not one ounce of uranium yellowcake was exported from WA in the last forty years. Nuclear power is dangerous as it needs a lot of water and carbon-based energy in order to produce nuclear energy and radioactive waste.

Nuclear also leaves a legacy of a long-term risk to human health and is a distraction from the transformation to renewable energy. Sam Wainwright, a councillor from the Fremantle City, and member of Socialist Alliance, said the bush fire crisis has blown away the denial about global warming. However, he warned that emissions targets for 2050 being touted by Liberal and Labor are unreasonable as we need to deal with feedback loops that will occur before then.

Wainright added it was not enough to paint a picture of apocalyptic climate change, we needed to push harder for the activation of renewable energy projects – such as the Fremantle Community Wind Farm for which $500,000 has been spent on a feasibility study and is ready to go but is being held back by governmental approval – rumoured to relate to objections by the state’s energy supplier, Synergy.

Leila Folland from Extinction Rebellion said it was necessary to have, “Creative disruption of the media, industry, and government” as there was a dissonance between what industry wanted and what was humanly and environmentally possible. Folland called on the WA government to declare a climate emergency – something other local governments, states and countries around the world have done but which the WA government is unable to do as it is held captive by the carbon emitting/extractive industries.

The 150 protesters then marched around the city of Fremantle to spread their message through colourful banners and chants and funky music which had people in the march dancing as well as other people along the march route.

The Communist Party of Australia supports the call by a number of groups in the rally for the phasing out of fossil fuels and a just transition to new renewables.

Next article – Launch of the May 1st Movement

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