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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Colourful protest sends thought-provoking message

Apart from mining company executives and employees, it appears as though everyone was happy with the People’s 9th Blockade of the World’s Largest Coal Port protest at Newcastle at the weekend.

While Newcastle City Police District praised the behaviour of those who participated in the event, which took place from Horseshoe Beach on Saturday December 12, organisers Extinction Rebellion Newcastle (XR) were equally delighted with the response to the annual demonstration.

The “peaceful” rally also continued the legacy of a community-led harbour “barrier” to highlight awareness to the realities of climate and coal.

A colourful flotilla of water craft and kayaks, as well as thought-provoking placards, added to the atmosphere.

“It [the protest] was a very successful day,” XR spokesperson Meg O’Hara said.

“We blocked the harbour, and stopped ships, for eight hours.

“Overall, we had a good gathering, about 200 people turned up to show their support.

“We also enjoyed a real family-friendly fun vibe at the event, with music entertainment on the beach.

“It was really beautiful to see members of the community, of all ages, come together to express solidarity and send a message that we need to act now on the climate emergency and find a just transition out of coal.

“The discussion must move away from profits and extraction towards conservation and preservation of life.”

Coordinator Jessica Ledgerwood admitted XR was “deeply concerned” about the accelerating impacts of climate change and the business-as-usual approach that so many of our leaders were taking.

“We are united with all those experiencing or yet to experience the adverse impacts of climate change, from job insecurity to displacement from traditional lands, intense drought, bushfires, floods and loss of biodiversity,” she said.

The organisation pointed to the urgency and rationale of a planned exit from coal, as the world’s three biggest coal-consuming countries – China, Japan and South Korea – had all committed to net-zero emissions, while climate scientists estimated global temperate rise could pass 1.5 degrees Celsius in the next 10 years.

“For decades, the science has warned fossil fuels have to end and there is still no strategy to support coal industry workers through the coming transition,” Ms Ledgerwood said.

“We demand a plan to guide a managed decline of the Hunter Valley [coal] sector and to embrace the clean energy of the future, such as solar, wind, waves and battery storage.

“It must be urgent and fair for all people.”