More than 40,000 people from all over Victoria Walked Against Warming today and sent a clear message to world leaders in Copenhagen that Australians want real and immediate action on climate change.
The event and was one of many Walk Against Warmings held around Australia today and concluded with a massive human sign across Princes Bridge with the message ‘Safe climate. Do it!’.
Aerial photos of the sign have been be sent around the globe to help pressure Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and other world leaders in Copenhagen to deliver a strong climate deal that sees rich countries like Australia slash their emissions and help fund cleaner development pathways for poorer countries.
Walk participants heard from a range of speakers including International Panel on Climate Change scientist Professor David Karoly, CFA volunteers Jenneke and Wytze Kylstra who fought in the Black Saturday fires, Leah Avene from Tuvalu in the Pacific Islands and Environment Victoria’s campaigns director Mark Wakeham.
Ms Kylstra, whose first day on the job was spent on a truck in Marysville on Black Saturday, said she was happy to share her story of Black Saturday if it helped inspire further action on climate change.
“I’ve seen first-hand the devastation of an extreme fire storm. Climate change means the conditions of Black Saturday will be replicated, and I will do all within my power to make sure Australia and the world commit to reducing our emissions so we can create an equitable and safe future,” she said.
Mr Wakeham told the crowd that in the coming weeks and years, people power was going to be needed more than ever before.
“We’ve been desperately lacking the leadership we need on climate change in Australia. But Copenhagen is the chance for Australia to change its spots and contribute to a global deal that protects the climate,” he said.
“Wealthy countries like ours need to start the process of eliminating our greenhouse pollution and assisting the developing world to do the same.
“That’s only likely to happen if ordinary Australians make climate change front and centre of every election from now on, beginning with the Victorian and federal elections in 2010. Having 40,000 people on the streets here today is a great start.”
This year’s Walk coincided with world leaders meeting for global climate negotiations in Copenhagen and was part of the International Day of Action on Climate Change.
Make Poverty History Co-chair Andrew Hewett said if a weak decision, or no decision was made in Copenhagen, a real opportunity for change would be lost.
“Climate change will affect us all, but millions of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people are already being hit hardest by climate change, despite being the least responsible for causing it,” he said.
“The message is clear. The Prime Minister must show leadership in Copenhagen and take strong action on climate change.”
Since 2005, more than 140,000 people have participated in Melbourne’s annual Walk Against Warming.
Download aerial photos of the human sign
See our Flickr photo album for more images
Did you come along? Share your stories from the day
To arrange interviews contact: Sacha Myers, Environment Victoria’s media officer, on 0417 017 844.