Three arrested over power plant protest

Three people are expected to be charged over a protest at the Hazelwood power station near Morwell in Victoria this morning.

The protesters were part of a group of around 30 people who took part in the protest ahead of tonight’s Earth Hour, calling for the nation to reduce its reliance on non-renewable energy.

Two protesters chained themselves to a conveyor belt, briefly disrupting the supply of coal between the Hazelwood mine and the power plant.

Lights in buildings across Australia will be turned off for an hour at 8:30pm to raise awareness of climate change.

But Louise Morris, one of the Hazelwood protesters, says every hour should be Earth Hour.

“If we’re serious about climate change, we actually need to be switching off coal and switching on renewables rather than just switching off our lights for one hour once a year,” she said.

“Hazelwood, which is one of the most polluting coal-fired power stations in the industrialised world, actually emits 5 per cent of our annual emissions.

“It really shows that [Kevin] Rudd has completely undersold Australia in terms of what we can do for climate change.”

A spokesman for the power station says the protesters are not interfering with the plant’s operation.

National student network joins community groups in rejecting Rudd's CPRS

The Australian Student Environment Network joins hundreds of community climate change groups and environment NGOs in rejecting Rudd’s proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS).

Last week, Kevin Rudd officially lost the support of the Australian climate movement as over 150 groups and up to 2,500 people called for his flagship climate policy, the CPRS, to be scrapped at Australia’s Climate Action Summit.

“Rudd’s CPRS will reward polluting industries, disempower Australian communities and do nothing to solve the climate crisis,” says Steve Skitmore from the Australia Student Environment Network

“We want a safe climate, yet Kevin Rudd and state Labor Premiers are rewarding and expanding the polluting coal industry. If the Rudd Government won’t create a just transition away from coal, Australian communities will, through creative local action and mass civil disobedience.”

“Green jobs need to be rapidly created for workers in the coal industry to ensure a just transition and viable future for communities that currently rely on income from polluting industries,” says Steve Skitmore

“Labor’s economic stimulus package could have been usd to create jobs in clean and safe industries and ensure the long term viability of communities, however the ball was dropped and all we are seeing is more of the same.”

“Rudd’s proposed CPRS will hand $4 billion to coal fired power plants, an industry that already receives billions in Federal subsidies every year. It is absurd and unjust to reward big business who got us into this mess,” says Steve Skitmore

“Last week, a diverse and empowered community climate movement united against false market solutions and handouts for polluters; and demanded greater community participation and control of solutions to the climate crisis.”

“This weekend we have seen Australia’s worst natural disaster, in part fueled by climate change. When will action be taken to stop these tragedies?”

Over 2,500 encircled Parliament House last Tuesday before its opening session for 2009. This action symbolised the loss of Rudd’s legitimacy to lead on climate change. Kevin Rudd has failed us and we must hold him accountable,” says Steve Skitmore

The Australian Student Environment Network is joining hundreds of community climate groups and NGOs to demand all political parties oppose the introduction CPRS and encourage all communities to implement just solutions for a safe climate future.

For more info or contacts see www.localhost/ or info@localhost/ or contact Steve Skitmore on 0401 766 903

Crackdown on climate protests

Lateline ran a story on February 2nd on moves by State and Federal Governments to legislate tougher penalties for climate change protesters. It features footage from many actions student climate justice activists were part of in 2007 and 2008.

You can download the story here: 20090202-late-climate_video4.wmv


Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 02/02/2009

Reporter: Margot O’Neill

More than 150 climate change groups have opposed passage of the Government’s carbon trading scheme through Parliament, saying the targets are dangerously low.

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Well, the Federal Government has lost the support of most of the Green lobby, including influential Australian Conservation Foundation for its key response to climate change. More than 150 climate change groups which met in Canberra over the weekend, announced today they would oppose the passage of the Government’s Carbon Emissions Trading Scheme through Parliament.

They say the Rudd Government’s targets are disastrously low and overly compensate the biggest carbon polluters.

Meanwhile State and Federal Governments are considering tougher penalties for climate change protesters, and tomorrow a major protest march is planned for Parliament House in Canberra.

Margot O’Neill reports.

MARGOT O’NEILL, REPORTER: Australia is set to see more protests like this, about 160 people were arrested last year with some climate change activists chaining themselves to railway tracks to block coal exports and to conveyer belts to disrupt power stations, others climbed smoke stacks.

After meeting in Canberra this weekend activists say there’s more to come.

JOHN HEPBURN, GREENPEACE: We’ll also see a lot more big protests at particularly the brown coal power stations in Victoria, some of the most polluting power stations on this earth, they need to be closed very quickly, and replaced with renewable energy.

We can do that now, we can create adjust transitions for workers in coal communities, and if the Government is not going to take that action then it’s up to the community to do it for them.

Because we simply cannot wait any longer, climate change is too urgent.

MARGOT O’NEILL, REPORTER: Federal and State Governments are reviewing the laws dealing with such disruptions after a request from the country’s State and Federal Energy Ministers.

GEOFF WILSON, QLD MINES AND ENERGY MINISTER: That shows you how seriously all Energy Ministers around Australia, including the Federal Minister see this action that was taken last year in various places.

MARGOT O’NEILL, REPORTER: In 2007 activists shut down Victoria’s Loy Yang Power Station for five hours.

GEOFF WILSON, QLD MINES AND ENERGY MINISTER: This action, they described as being peaceful. Only has the veneer of being peaceful, when indeed the outcome of the action has the high risk that electricity supply will be cut off to large communities with harmful impacts on those large communities.

JOHN HEPBURN, GREENPEACE: The kind of protests that we have seen at coal power stations have not resulted in any of those sorts of problems.

MARGOT O’NEILL, REPORTER: Protesters in the United Kingdom were last year acquitted of criminal damage charges after one of the world’s leading climate change scientists James Hansen from NASA testified that coal fired power stations were causing greater damage to the public good through dangerous global warming.

Now two of Australia’s internationally renowned climate change scientists, health expert Professor Tony McMichael, and climate expert Professor David Karoly say many climate change activists in Australia are unsung heroes, and they’d be prepared to testify in court on their behalf about the urgency of global warming and its impacts.

DAVID KAROLY, MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY: I would be prepared to provide support to provide, if you like, defence, testimony, that says that these activists are providing justifiable responses given the imminent danger associated with climate change.

MARGOT O’NEILL, REPORTER: In a political blow for the Government it’s formerly lost the support of much of the green lobby for its Emissions Trading Scheme, known as the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme due to start next year.

One of Australia’s most influential environmental groups, the Australian Conservation Foundation, as well as other groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth will now actively oppose Government policy unless it toughens up.

TONY MOHR, AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION: The two biggest flaws with the proposed Carbon Pollution Scheme is that it will lock in unacceptably weak targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions for many years.

It will also see billions of dollars going to big polluters.

MARGOT O’NEILL, REPORTER: But the New South Wales Minerals Council says the scheme’s targets are already steep enough.

NIKKI WILLIAMS, NSW MINERALS COUNCIL: It is a very tough target and there is no other county in the world that has one.

MARGOT O’NEILL, REPORTER: A draft of the legislation will be released publicly later this month.

Margot O’Neill, Lateline.