Right now we are witnessing a genuine grassroots movement calling for climate justice that is building with unstoppable momentum – and it’s because of you.
By Adam Bandt
Our climate emergency campaign began with two big shocks. The first was the election – or more precisely, the return of a government determined to deny climate science. The second shock was witnessing almost daily headlines promising a bleak future if we don't take immediate action. So we began as movements always do: with people coming together to demand change.
For the first time ever, the majority of Australians ranked climate change as the greatest threat facing our country, but the Coalition is not listening to their concerns.
Knowing this (and with your support), we kicked off our campaign to call on the parliament to follow the UK, Ireland and Canada and declare a climate emergency in Australia. Within 24 hours over 10,000 people had signed the petition. We were off and running!
Taking to the streets
Marching with over 150,000 climate strikers in Melbourne, and witnessing over 300,000 people strike right around the country is something I will never forget!
And it was humbling a few weeks later to see thousands of people, including our former Senate colleague Scott Ludlam, put their freedom on the line by peacefully disrupting our cities in an effort to force politicians to pay attention to the climate and environment crisis.
Getting the message in front of politicians
After months of street protests, marches, rallies, and petitions, it was time to take our message directly to the politicians who need to see it.
With the generous support of people like you, we raised enough money to put a billboard up at Canberra airport, so it was the first thing MPs saw when they landed in Parliament last week. Then you stepped up even further and helped us take our message to the skies, so MPs wouldn’t be able to miss it.
We won’t be silenced
The government saw our message and, well, they weren’t happy – so we must have been doing something right!
They tried to stop us talking about the issue by banning our balloon from flying near Parliament House. But that didn’t stop us bringing our balloon and our demands to the front door of Parliament right before the vote.
Watch how the story unfolded:
Voting to declare a climate emergency
Finally, after months of actions around the country, we were ready to take your message from the streets into the Parliament and call on MPs to declare a climate emergency.
In the House of Reps, my message was clear: natural disasters have increased in intensity and frequency, we're in the midst of an extinction crisis, and the average global temperatures suggest that we're on the brink of failing to meet the agreed Paris target of no more than 1.5 degrees of global warming.
I then called on the Parliament to vote to declare a climate emergency, because our future survival depends on it. The good news is that we secured the support of Labor and part of the crossbench and, for the very first time, the climate emergency discussion has been front and centre in our Parliament.
This time, the vote narrowly failed because the government voted against it. But just as Parliament said ‘no’ to marriage equality a few times before it finally said ‘yes’, we’ll keep coming back until we win.
So what’s next?
This first vote is just the beginning. The vote is so close – we only need three Liberal backbenchers to vote with their conscience and the declaration will get up! – so now we’re redoubling our efforts to get MPs to speak out and join us on the right side of history.
Thank you for everything you have done up until now. The Greens will keep on pushing to make sure the federal parliament declares a climate emergency, and with your help we will make it happen.
Adam Bandt is the Greens’ spokesperson for climate change.