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Young people to camp for climate action

November 19, 2011
Monday, September 7, 2009 – 10:00
By Tim Dobson

At Camps for Climate Action, climate change activists organise discussions on the politics of the climate movement and take direct action against major polluting industries.

The camps began in August 2006, when British activists camped near Britain’s largest carbon dioxide emitter, the Drax coal–fired power station

The camp included a day of action, when activists tried to shut down Drax. A few managed to “lock on” to some of the machines and stopped coal entering the power station for the day.

The British Guardian‘s September 1, 2006 editorial said the climate camp “mark[ed] a new turn in concern over global warming and climate change”.

Since then, climate camps have spread throughout the world, growing in size and influence. This year, there will be at least 20 around the world.

In Australia, the first climate camp occurred in Newcastle last year. More than 1000 people shut down the world’s biggest coal port, bringing all coal trains to a halt. The message was strong: people were sick of the Rudd government putting coal companies’ profits over a safe climate.

The government isn’t taking anywhere near the necessary action: its current policies will lead to climate disaster. The influence of the coal industry — “greenhouse mafia” — over climate policy continues to be strong under Labor.

The “worse than nothing” Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme was evidence of this. It proposed a pathetic emissions target of 5% and would have given $16.4 billion worth of subsidies to some of Australia’s biggest polluters. The CPRS was rejected by the Senate on August 13.

The increasing gap between what the climate science says is required and what the government is doing means the climate action movement needs to force the government into a climate emergency response.

The movement was strengthened by the Climate Action Summit in Canberra in January. It established a list of priorities for the movement. One was for all states to hold climate camps to help illustrate the urgent need to move away from a fossil fuel economy.

Australia is the world’s biggest coal exporter, so it’s no surprise coal will be the focus of the camps.

In New South Wales, a camp will be held over October 9-11 in Helensburgh, just south of Sydney. The theme is “When it comes to water, climate and jobs, actions speak louder than words!”

The Climate Camp ’09 website (<>) says Helensburgh was chosen for the camp because it is the site of Australia’s oldest coalmine.

In Victoria, a protest will be held on September 12-13, targeting Hazelwood coal-fired power station in the Latrobe Valley. Hazelwood is one of the dirtiest power stations in the world. The action will demand the government “switch off Hazelwood, switch off coal”, and replace coal-dependent industries with clean energy jobs.

South Australia’s Climate Camp will be held over September 24-27 and the target will be Northern and Playford B plants, two brown coal-fired power plants near Port Augusta.

In Western Australia, a camp will be held over December 17-20, after the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen. It will be near the coal-producing town of Collie, 213 kilometres south of Perth. The camp, say organisers, will involve “grassroots direct action designed to stop coalmining and its use for energy production”.

Climate Camps represent an important opportunity to send a clear message to the government: we demand a safe climate future! Resistance will be at all four climate camps and encourages as many people as possible to come along and get involved in the fight for a safe climate.

From GLW issue 809

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