News | 15th Aug, 2001

Thousands protest on climate change

Sunday, 15 August

Tens of thousands of protesters – and a few sceptics – have taken to the streets across Australia to urge the major political parties to take action on climate change.

Both Labor and the coalition have failed to take decisive action to cut Australia's pollution levels in the run-up to the federal election, Walk Against Warming rallies in Australia's capital cities heard on Sunday.

Events held in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth attracted tens of thousands of people.

Sydney's CBD was filled with about 10,000 protesters who expressed their disappointment at the failure of politicians to stand up to the country's "big polluters".

"It's time for our political leaders to step up and take responsibility," Pepe Clarke of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW told AAP.

Communities across Australia have proved they are making the changes needed to reduce the impact of global warming, Mr Clarke said.

"We feel that climate change is going to be a key issue for people going to the polls next Saturday," he said.

"If our political leaders have failed to give (climate change) prominence during their campaign, it's at their own risk.

"We've had enough of the delays, enough of the false promises. What we want to see is real action to curb carbon pollution in Australia in the next term of government."

In Adelaide, police were called to break up a scuffle between protesters after climate change sceptics tried to disrupt the rally.

The sceptics, fewer than half a dozen, wore T-shirts bearing the words, CRAP (Carbon Really Ain't Pollution).

John Rice, organiser with the Climate Emergency Action Network, said he called police after one of the sceptics allegedly pushed his microphone into his face.

No one was charged in connection with the incident, police said.

The rally, which attracted several hundred people, aimed to have 100,000 leaflets delivered throughout the state to alert South Australians to the issue of climate change.

A Walk Against Warming event in Brisbane attracted between 8000 and 10,000 people, organisers said.

"Despite growing cynicism about both major political parties since the Copenhagen summit (in December last year) and the failure of the emissions trading scheme, thousands of people have still turned out to voice their concerns about the future," Toby Hutcheon, executive director of Queensland Conservation, said.

In Melbourne, thousands of protesters took to the streets to letterbox the key electorates of Melbourne, Deakin and Latrobe with a message for action on climate change.

"Poll after poll shows that Australians want action on climate change yet just one week from the federal election, both major parties are still failing to produce plans that will reduce pollution," Environment Victoria's campaign director, Mark Wakeham, said.

"So this year we're changing tack and taking our message straight to the people who matter the most – the voters," he said.

In Sydney, Al Gore's Climate Project presenter, Nell Schofield, attracted huge cheers when she said Australia's lack of political action on climate change was "not only embarrassing, it is morally reprehensible".

"As Al Gore says, politicians are also a renewable resource," she said.