In an Orwellian inversion of the meaning of words, Australia’s coal industry is now claiming that it is a victim. Those whose activities are destroying the conditions of life on earth, whose daily business is already contributing to countless deaths around the world, have the gall to suggest that they are being victimised. And who are the miscreants victimising the mighty coal industry? A handful of courageous activists willing to put their bodies on the line for the greatest cause of all — trying to protect our planet from the disastrous consequences of a warming world. The world has gone mad. But we can all help to inject a bit of sanity back into it by supporting Rising Tide against corporate bullying.
Clive Hamilton, author and public intellectual, Professor of Public Ethics, founding director of the Australia Institute, author of Growth Fetish, Affluenza, Scorcher and Requiem for a Species
I warmly congratulate Rising Tide for their courageous action on 26 September 2010 that resulted in the complete shutdown of the world’s biggest coal port in Newcastle. I remember seeing photos of protesters hanging off the loading infrastructure at the three coal terminals and feeling very proud that these young Australians were standing up for responsible action on climate change. Their courage stood in sharp contrast to the failure of Labor and Coalition leaders to adopt a transition plan from coal dependency to clean energy.
We all now need to stand with Rising Tide as mining companies gang up to destroy them. I am confident this will not happen but our support will be vital.
Mining multinationals Rio Tinto and Xstrata are misusing NSW victim compensation laws to claim that seven of the protesters arrested in this action owe them $525,000, which supposedly represents the profits they missed out on the day that Rising Tide shutdown coal loading operations.
I urge that you send personal messages of support to Rising Tide and organise any group you are in to also publicly indicate their support.
The Rising Tide Seven will become another inspiring chapter in the history of activism and the critical campaign to rein in runaway climate change.
Lee Rhiannon, Greens NSW Senator-elect
History will show that groups like Rising Tide and the Rising Tide 7 are not just standing up for a liveable future but calling foul on the corporate thieves who would plunder the common wealth for their own profits.
The real crime at PWCS is the 260 million tonnes of CO2 emitted from the burning of the 100 million tonnes of coal that is passed through the loaders each year. By Lord Stern’s calculations those greenhouse gases will be responsible for more than A$22 billion damage to the world’s economy including storms, disease, drought, crop loss, floods and death.
The flow of fossilised greenhouse gases through the loaders is set to climb to 2018. If nothing is done to stop this crime against the future of humanity, the accumulating annual toll will be more than A$57 billion.
If PWCS wants to talk about compensating victims of crime, then they should look carefully to their own affairs. If there is to be any real justice, sooner or later those who have accumulated their own treasure at the expense of the human and ecological misery that climate change will bring will be called to account.
Congratulations to the Rising Tide 7 and all climate activists everywhere who put their personal liberty, financial security and safety on the line for the future of this planet.
John Kaye, Greens member of the NSW Parliament
The superfluous compensation claim against the Rising Tide 7 by Port Waratah Coal Services will help to raise awareness about the global damage being caused by Australian coal exports—this country’s biggest contribution to climate change by far. As the worlds biggest coal dealer, with plans to double exports over the next decade, Australia is on track to export as much CO2 annually in a decade or so as Saudi Arabia does in its oil today. As the world’s largest coal port, Newcastle is playing a starring role in the greatest man-made catastrophe in history. 150 years ago the ethics of the slave trade were glossed over by many in the American south because it was considered economically indispensible. In 2010, it is de rigueur in Australia to turn a blind eye to the ethics of exporting climate change in coal. In years to come, just as the world moved beyond the slave trade, it will also leave this coal trade behind. Rising Tide Newcastle is already pre-eminent among Australian activists whose peaceful protests and courage are shifting the national mood toward this country’s greatest purveyors of climate chaos. PWCS’s ill-advised legal action will attract rather than deter more Australians to Rising Tide’s cause.
Guy Pearse, Research Fellow, Global Change Institute – University of Queensland; Author of High & Dry—John Howard, climate change, and the selling of Australia’s future and Quarry Vision—Coal, climate change and the end of the resources boom.
For decades – since before the year I was born – coal companies have known that climate change is happening, and that their operations are largely responsible for Australia’s high carbon pollution levels. But they did not act, despite their knowledge.
Twenty years later they are still not acting; but rather doing everything in their power to bully into submission those who have a vision of safer future powered by clean energy – an Australia with clean air, clean water and clean soil now and for the future.
The Rising Tide 7 stood up to Australia’s biggest polluters, and created a moment in time where they expressed what our communities are feeling when we see coal companies continue polluting without regard for the impacts we’re already experiencing: increased drought, fires, floods, extreme weather events.
The Rising Tide 7 stood up for the farmers being forced off the land because of drought. For the people in the Torres Strait evacuating because of sea level rise. For our precious natural Australian icons – Kakadu, the Australian Alps, the Daintree – which are already in severe decline, and the tourism workers whose jobs depend on them. And for a future where coal companies don’t have the power to abuse the law, bully courageous citizens, and claim they are the “victims”.
Please join me in supporting the Rising Tide 7.
Anna Rose, Co-Founder & Chair, Australian Youth Climate Coalition, 2009 Young Environmentalist of the Year, 2010 Churchill Fellow
I was one of the back up protest people standing on the coal heaps on the day these very brave young people were hanging off the coal loaders or generally getting in the way of the dangerous machinery. Those of us standing there for a few hours only got small fines although we also were responsible for the shutting down of the loaders.
We are evaporating our coal mines into our atmosphere!
We have the technology to change rapidly to renewable energies now, the two old parties just can’t find the political will to do so in the face of the lobbying of the coal industry.
If we don’t start making real change now, soon our children and grandchildren will be asking why we didn’t do something before it was too late.
Paula Morrow, author of ‘Life in Time’ and ‘Darwin’s Dilemma: the damage done and the battle for the forests’
We in Rising Tide UK congratulate the Australian “Rising Tide 7” for a bold action with a clear message, at an extremely important target. This kind of effective non-violent direct action is crucial, to demonstrate that the blind self-destructive pursuit of profit through fossil fuel extraction and combustion is unsustainable, destructive and must stop now.
Climate Change is accelerating. The effects are being felt daily around the world. We must take responsibility for our addiction to fossil fuel and the massive part that it plays in driving climate change.
There are alternatives to fossil fuels in the form of community-run renewable energies, that don’t emit greenhouse gasses. The grip the fossil fuel industry has on the global economy has to be loosened, so that we can pursue other, responsible options, which don’t lead to the catastrophes that an altered global climate will increasingly bring.
The “Rising Tide 7” have demonstrated that people are prepared to stand up and fight back against the injustices of the fossil fuel industry. We stand in solidarity with Rising Tide Australia in their resulting legal fight.
The money that the coal port lost is miniscule compared to the damage that the coal industry is causing in local communities and to the global environment. The legal basis of the claim of “victim’s compensation” and the quantity of money being pursued from these individuals is laughable.
If the port’s claim is upheld then this will represent a hugely cynical and short-sighted victory for the might of big businesses, against genuinely socially concerned individuals. The current basis of fossil fuel industry profit is intolerable on economic, environmental, and social-justice grounds and actions such as those taken by the “Rising Tide 7” are entirely justified. We all have the right to non-violently stand up to practices that harm our own and others lives.
Rising Tide UK calls on those from the port working on the legal case, to consider the importance of the cause that the “Rising Tide 7’s” action represented and the non-violent manner in which the port was shut-down.
We wish the Rising Tide 7 the best of luck in their fight.
Rising Tide UK
The Rising Tide 7 and other climate activists are standing up against the vested interests of coal mining multinationals like Rio Tinto and Xstrata to highlight this failure of leadership.
We know that all species will be affected by climate change and that our governments need to reduce and regulate carbon pollution and have a coherent response to climate change.
The names of the Rising Tide 7 and other climate activists will be remembered long after the names of those profiting from carbon pollution are forgotten.
In the mid to late 1800s, when the politicians were not listening to the calls to enact laws to allow women the right to vote, many women – later to be known as suffragettes – decided on a course of nonviolent direct action to highlight their cause. At the time, many said the actions of the suffragettes were a waste of time, and that the politicians would not listen. But eventually, their moral stance and persistence paid off. Today, we are rightly appalled if women are not afforded the same status under law as men, and we celebrate the struggle of the suffragettes.
In the Great Depression, hundreds protested against the forced eviction of unemployed tenants, notably in Clara Street Tighes Hill in 1932, which led to 30 arrests. Eventually, their efforts resulted in legislative recognition of the rights of tenants.
For the future of all species and all humans, our governments need to reduce and regulate carbon pollution.
The Rising Tide 7 and other climate activists are standing up against the carbon polluters who try to cast themselves as “victims”; they are standing up for all species on the planet to highlight that our governments so far have failed to provide the leadership necessary to deal with climate change.
We should be proud to stand with them.
Michael Osborne, Newcastle Councillor
This is some of the most important activism underway anywhere, and it’s inspiring to those of us in South Africa who are trying to keep the coal in the hole. We hope to follow in your footsteps by the time of the Conference of the Parties 17 in Durban.
More power to you – and less to the abusers of big coal!
Patrick Bond, Centre for Civil Society, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban
What you did was good and brave, and there are growing numbers of groups and individuals around the world who are ready to stand by you, and to support you both politically and, if they can, financially. Governments and corporations may be sullying the name of Australia with their ecocidal antics, but you are a shining example that the Australian people won’t allow climate crimes to be carried out in their name.
Mark Brown, Art Not Oil, London, England
Actions like these are so important to keep the spotlight fairly and squarely on the true causes of climate change. This is an important opportunity to stand up to the coal industry. We know we are have the moral high ground.
Moira Williams, Climate Action Newtown
Congratulations for making such a stand. Action is the only way for community to stand up and speak out. Making news headlines worldwide places more pressure on governments and greedy corporations to act more responsibly in protecting our future.
The Rising Tide 7 and their backup crew at the world’s biggest coal port in Newcastle deserve the admiration of everyone who supports a cause. They certainly have mine. Such courage can galvanise into action many who would otherwise not become involved.
You are brave people with a thought for the future. Against formidable odds you are standing up to big business and I and many more support your efforts to alert everyone to those who are ignoring the rising tide resulting directly from their actions in maintaining and increasing the export and burning of coal.
I hope we stop this thing before we run out of food!
Shadhani Rowe, Age 7
I consider the actions of Rising Tide halting the coal loader last September an act of extreme bravery. Not only putting their lives on the line drawing attention to the health-threatening extraction, transport and burning of coal but also in enduring the aftermath of court appearances and punishment.
You are an example to us all and I am very proud to be associated with you. I trust that you will not have to do this too many more times and that coal mining and export will become a history subject which we will rejoice is no more!
Felicity Crombach, Climate Action Pittwater
Faced with the urgency and gravity of climate change, the only sane course of action is to ACT. Rising Tide did this and took action to show that we need to change our ways. It is time to say farewell to coal, time for Australia to kick its addiction to this dangerous fossil fuel that is endangering the future of the Earth’s ecosystems and its human societies. Rising Tide took a brave ethical stand – and now it seems they are paying the price. They are being sued for their commitment to saving the future. As happened with Gunns and the Wilderness Society, those who act for the Earth are being legally victimised. It is a gross parody of justice. Those who are destroying the Earth’s future are portraying themselves as ‘victims’, while poor activists are being threatened with a bill for hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, like with Gunns, the truth will often win out. I support the climate change actions of Rising Tide, and hope that the company will abandon its ethically bankrupt legal action.
Dr Haydn Washington, author of ‘Climate Change Denial:Heads in the Sand’
Full support to Rising Tide’s campaign against victims compensation (for Port Waratah Coal Services- owned by Rio Tinto and Xstrata) for the shutting down of the worlds biggest coal port in September last year.
Jorge Tadeo Vargas, Marea Creciente Mexico
Thank you for your courage. We support your resistance!
Panagioti Tsolkas, Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition
All businesses need to recognise that they operate within a social context and that brings with it social responsibilities, environmental responsibilities and an ethical requirement in running their operations.
What is quite clear when you look at the devastation of the environment in the Hunter valley, the corruption of land ownership where coal companies buy up most of the agricultural land as they have in Singleton and Muswellbrook Shires, and the way they break up communities, that there is little ethical consideration when large multinational corporations eye a resource and then exploit it.
Company CEOs are fond of saying that democracy has no place in corporations [eg., a former CEO of Optus]. That is a most corrupt claim of privilege. It is the kind of attitude that gives coal mining companies the false and undemocratic argument to the steamrolling of landowners’ and the community’s rights. It is the kind of moral perversion that would lead company executives and their lawyers to take this kind of bullying legal action.
Given that the State is selling out the populations’ interests in promoting coal as a royalty earner, people have the option of standing by while the mining industry continues to run amok on our land resources, destroying their viability forever, or agitating, taking direct action, and showing OUR governments that we believe they betray us. This is why I support the Rising Tide.
Jim McDonald, Noosa and Hinterlands Greens Branch
This victims compensation claim is yet another example of how the heads of big coal lack any moral compass or scruples. Coal-fired power station owners have been warned by climate scientists that they are directly responsible for damage caused to communities through climate change. If we want to talk about victims compensation, a more suitable claimant would be the communities who bear the billion-dollar brunt of environmental impacts caused by coal-fired power stations.
I absolutely applaud the actions taken by the defendant activists. Through non-violent direct action, Australians have for years been showing that it’s not only OK to take peaceful action in order to make a stand against polluting industries like coal, its critical if we’re going to avoid catastrophic climate change. Even magistrates are acknowledging that while laws might be broken in non-violent direct action, the behaviour of activists is respectful and peaceful, and the cause a noble and worthy one. If nothing else, I am inspired by this case to go out and undertake more direct action to prevent the expansion of the dirty coal industry.
I congratulate you on your action to stop the coal juggernaut and show that some of us care more for our planet than we care for greed and profits. I hope this will be a situation where right wins over might and the law supports you. It is appalling that Victims’ Compensation money might be spent on propping up corporate greed, while man-made climate change continues to create victims who receive no compensation.
Alison Cleary, Climate Action Newcastle
It is very disappointing that we have major business enterprises in our country that are focussed on endless unsustainable growth in return for their own short term gains. They need to be made aware that their policies are out of step with thinking Australians and unfortunately it seems that only active protesting will have any real impact. I salute the commitment made by these protesters and they have my full support in the positive protest actions they have taken.
The actions of the coal industry are clearly intended to silence public dissent and to cripple environmental action groups like Rising Tide. It is disgraceful that they would use these compensation laws, intended for individual victims of violent crimes, and we wholeheartedly support Rising Tide’s stand against this compensation claim. Instead of the law being used to demonise protestors it should be used to legislate the phasing out of coal as well as ensuring government investment in renewable energy.
Even though we know the dangers of coal and its affect on the environment, made even more pertinent by the recent floods in Queensland, our government has still approved the development of 12 new power stations. With our government seemingly unwilling to do what is necessary to combat climate change and the coal industry trying to hinder protest it is clear that what we need is more mass action.
Marijke Hoving, Climate Action Collective, University of Sydney