More than 60,000 people are estimated to have rallied or marched for climate action across Australia in a demonstration that a significant number of people view climate change as a serious issue requiring substantive action from all levels of Government, including the Federal Government lead by cinservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
The rallies were organised by GetUp, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and the Australian Conservation Foundation.
The protest comes as the bills to dismantle Australia's carbon price and funding subsidies for renewable energy are introduced into Federal parliament on Monday. If successful, Australia would become the first country to roll back a functioning carbon pricing mechanism.
Melbourne rally draws 30,000 people
estimated up to 30,000 people rallied and listened to several speakers followed by several music performances.
The Climate Council's Professor Tim Flannery addressed the crowd and highlighted the substantial rollout in rooftop solar PV systems in the last seven years to over a million households, about 10 per cent of all households. ""We can't leave a matter as important as climate change to Australian politicians. We must stand up and be counted." he said.
One of the first actions of the Abbott Government was to close the Climate Commission. As a result of public outcry, more than $1 million was crowd funded to establish the work of the Climate Commission as the publicly crowd sourced funded Climate Council.
Greens member for Melbourne Adam Bandt also addressed the rally and said that the science was clear. He told the crowd that "Tony Abbott is a climate change Neville Chamberlain when we need a Winston Churchill,"
unusually early and intense Sydney bushfires and climate change which embroiled Prime Minister Abbott and Environment Minister Greg Hunt as denying any link.
Tony Mohr from the Australian Conservation Foundation said it was time politicians started listening to citizens. "Australians want to make sure that we continue to reduce emissions," Mr Mohr said. "So politicians should listen to people around the country today - don't repeal the laws that we've got, and actually increase them, make them stronger, make them reduce pollution further."
Shadow Climate Change minister Mark Butler reaffirmed the Labor party policy not to backdown on repeal of the legislation. The Labor Party decided to oppose any wholesale repeal of their clean energy package, but would consider supporting any Government legislation transitioning to an Emissions Trading scheme.
"In Australia, unlike in most other countries, there's an atmosphere of denialism and scepticism," he said. "So many in our media and so many of our politicians, who should know better, deny that the science is settled."
"This isn't the time to move backwards. You'll hear a lot this week from Tony Abbott about his mandate. He'll tell all of you to get out of the way as he tries to slam Australia into reverse. But we won't be taking a backwards step, not this week, not this year, or next year or ever." he told the crowd reported the Guardian.
View my photos of the Melbourne Climate Rally on Flickr.
10,000 in Sydney do a Brolly Ballet for Climate Action
In Sydney 10,000 people turned out to rally in the rain producing a sea of umbrellas. Wendy Harmer as the MC of the Sydney rally encouraged the crowd to do the umbrella ballet, by lifting the umbrellas up and down and chanting "What do we want Sydney? Climate change now".
The rally was addressed by Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek who criticised the Government for failing to send ministerial representation to the Warsaw climate talks. She criticised the Coalition for not sending a senior Government representative to this week's climate talks in Warsaw.
"Was a trading emissions scheme working? Yes. Electricity from old brown sources of energy down, renewable up by 30 per cent in the first year of its operation," she told the crowd, according to the ABC.
Accoring to the SMH report GetUp campaigns director Erin McCallum said Tony Abbott was operating under a false mandate on repealing the carbon price.
"Today really demonstrated that Tony Abbott is acting under a completely false mandate when he says he has a referendum to undo climate action," she said.
"More than 60,000 people who turned out around the country today are representative of the polling we've seen, that the majority of Australians support stronger climate action."
"I think the most heart warming thing was just the sheer number of large and small events across the country."
5000 in Perth with record November heat
Up to 5000 people rallied in Perth to listen to speakers including Greens Senator Rachel Siewert and Labor Senator Louise Pratt, MPs Melissa Parke and Alannah MacTiernan as well as representatives of the firefighters union, World Vision and the Conservation Council of Western Australia.
Senator Siewart released the following statement:
"Today's rally has sent a clear message that people will not stand by as the Coalition tears up Australia's climate change laws," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens marine spokesperson said today.
"Tony Abbott wants to repeal Australia's climate change laws despite the fact that our state and our oceans are under profound pressure as a result of climate change.
"In WA, the drying trend across our South West threatens agriculture, rural communities and our food security. Climate change is causing our oceans to warm, become more acidic and is even leading to some ocean currents intensifying and moving closer to the poles.
"Around Australia and the world, we're seeing weather events becoming more severe, along with the increased risk of fires, floods and droughts.
"Action on climate change this decade is critical to keeping global warming to less than 2?C and to protect our oceans, environment, agriculture but Tony Abbott is taking us in the wrong direction by tearing up the price on carbon pollution.
"Acting on climate change is critical to protecting our state. The Greens support strong and responsible action to meet a greenhouse gas reduction target of net carbon zero by 2050, and to develop strong new industries in a clean energy economy driven by renewable energy.
"The Coalition are ignoring the fact that climate change is having an increasing impact on our lives. Ignoring the science is an irresponsible step that jeopardises the future of our state," Senator Siewert concluded.
Brisbane rally sees 5000
About 5,000 turned up in Brisbane where Greens leader Senator Christine Milne and Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waters spoke to the crowd. Singer songwriter John Butler entertained the rally including singing the protest song 'From Little Things Big Things Grow'
Adelaide rally in Elder Park
In Adelaide at least 4,000 people met in Elder Park calling for action on climate change. One of the speakers included Greg Northcott from the United Firefighters Union.
Canberra rally sees 3000 and struggles with sound problems
500 turnout in Darwin
In Darwin 500 people participated in a march for climate action from the Rapid Creek bridge to the Nightcliff pool.
Hobart crowd of 2000 a good turnout
According to reports about 2000 people attended a rally in Hobart.
This national day of action has motivated the largest number of people on climate change since the November 2007 Walk Against Warming rallies which attracted over 100,000 people. During December 2009 while the Copenhagen climate negotiations were underway about 40,000 people rallied in Melbourne. It is clear there is still strong community sentiment for strong climate action by the Federal Government, as well ast state and local government.
Fairfax Journalist Ben Cubby compared the rallies to the +axe the carbon tax rallies":
Interestng that, at their peak, the "axe the carbon tax" people could only get about 10% of the numbers of the #climateaction rallies.— Ben Cubby (@bencubby) November 17, 2013
A fact highlighted as well by Andrew White:
Darren highlighted what the Liberal Party program on climateaction was in 1997, which makes interesting reading when you compare it with the current Liberal Party policy and (in)action.
With 130 different events around Australia, there were many marches, rallies, picnics and protests. Some were small, a few people, and others were several hundred strong, and everywhere in between. These embedded tweets from my cursory search show some of the regional rallies for climate action.
New South Wales Regional Centres
Lawson, Blue Mountains:
Upper Blue Mountains
Leard Forest (Tarrawonga Coal mine)
Victorian regional centres
Ballarat: Greens State MP Greg Barber addressed the Ballarat rally. He said "We will be pressing these issues pretty hard in the run-up to the state election. The state government has the tools in its hand to make big cuts to greenhouse gases."
Castlemaine: (at least 1000 people attended according to @roshart)
Burleigh Heads / Gold Coast
There were two rallies on the Sunshine Coast, one with 150 people at Coolum in Clive Palmer's electorate.
Western Australia regional
- Bridie Smith, The Age, 17 November 2013 - Huge crowd attends city rally on climate change
- ABC 17 November 2013 - Thousands rally across Australia for National Day of Climate Action
- Gemma Khaicy, Julie Power, Sydney Morning Herald, 17 November 2013 - Crowd braves rain for climate change rally
- Oliver Milman, The Duardian, 17 November 2013 - Climate rallies held across Australia
- Brisbane Times, 17 November 2013, - Crowds attend city rally on climate change
- Mathaba, 17 November 2013, - Adelaide climate change rally draws 2000 protesters