Well done to everyone who marched or supported the march, particularly the many shop keepers who allowed signs to go up in their windows. It was awesome with the estimated 60,000 people, who at one point, stretched all the way from Parliament House down Bourke street and up Swanston street to the starting place at the State Library at Latrobe street.
“The majority of Australians want action on climate change,” said Geoff Cousins, chair of the Australian Conservation Foundation. “People now realise this is not some theoretical concept. This is affecting their lives on a daily basis and they want something done about it.” he told the crowd, according to ABC News.
This sends a strong message for increased action to the current Federal Government under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Just don’t expect any acknowledgment. Political leaders seldom acknowledge the influence of protests, but they do have an impact and influence none the less.
Victoria McKenzie-McHarg at the parliament house steps estimated the crowd was at least 60,000 people. “This absolutely is the largest climate change rally we have ever seen in Australian history,” she said to the large crowd, according to the Age, before the observance of a minutes silence for the victims of climate change, and a rousing rendition of the crowd singing the Paul Kelly song From little things big things grow lead by Emma Donovan.
Melbourne was joined on Friday night by a rally of 300 people in Bendigo. Other cities and regional towns around Australia will be marching and rallying over the weekend. Find your nearest one at Peoplesclimate.org.au. And cities around the world will see similar mobilisations.
Except Paris, which has a state of emergency where climate street protests are presently banned. Activists in Paris have vowed push the limits to this prohibition on Sunday when they attempt to form a human chain on the sidewalk of the Boulevard Voltaire, plus other visual and audio protest action.
We are not alone. A Lowy Institute survey revealed that most Australians want increased climate targets heading into the UN Climate Conference.
Federal and State Green MPs were there, but so too was Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and several state and Federal Labor MPs. Bill Shorten has just stated that a Labor Government would lift the emissions target to 45 percent by 2030. The Climate Institute welcomed the ALP’s stronger, more credible pollution reduction commitments.
So for the next two weeks heads of state, diplomats and negotiators will go head to head at the UN climate change conference in Paris. While an agreement is possible, it is unlikely in it’s present draft form with present country commitments that warming will be capped at 2 degrees above pre-industrial level. The current INDCs best case would limit warming to 2.7 to 3.0 degrees. But we all know that best case scenarios seldom come to fruition and we are probably looking at 3-4 degrees C of warming with current INDC country emission reduction commitments.
Indications are the negotiations will try to establish a mechanism where emission reduction targets and mitigation can be ramped up in the future on a base level agreement. This could be in the form of regular reviews, say each five years, with no allowance for backtracking. The problem with this is CO2 is cumulative and the longer it takes for us to peak and reduce emissions, the more work (and more expense) it will take.
Of course recognition of different capacities and responsibilities will be important, and finance, loss and damage and many other issues will feature prominently as part of the negotiations.
Professor Kevin Anderson from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research thinks the Paris conference is our last chance to keep within the 2 degree guardrail. And that chance is looking fairly slim.
Meanwhile, we have our Environment Minister Greg Hunt who says we have already met our extremely low 2020 target of 5 per cent emissions reduction, yet won’t commit to now lifting to a higher 2020 target. This allows Australia to use carry over credits for our post-2020. This is like playing Russian roulette with climate with the gun pointing at all our collective heads. How lucky do you feel? It also undermines global confidence: if Australia has met it’s extremely low target and refuses to set a more ambitious one, then why should other countries set ambitious targets.
We have our Foreign Minister Julie Bishop who reckons that Australia’s primary role at the Paris climate conference is to assist with “rules and transparency”. (see Australia’s Australia’s #climate stance for Paris #COP21)
So this climate march was awesome, but it is just a start, a waypoint along the way, to make our politicians take action commensurate with the science. To make business leaders sit up and assess their business models for sustainability criteria. A lot of change is necessary at all levels
Take a breath, have a glass of wine, play with your kids, enjoy the moment, then join us at Climate Action Moreland and other volunteer groups in realizing a sustainable future for us all. To change Everything we need everyone, as we are all affected by climate change.
Here is my live blog of the Melbourne climate march. Sitting in an apartment in Paris while waiting for COP21 to start, I used the time to collate this summary of the march:
— John Englart EAM (@takvera) November 27, 2015