Say ‘Yes’ to Action on Climate Change – rally in Melbourne, 5 June 2011

Overview of part of crowd at end of rally

Part of the crowd at the end of the rally

As the photo shows, the lawns of the State Library were jam-packed for this morning’s Climate Action rally, with estimates of ten thousand being quoted in the media (see, for example, The Age), and there were similar rallies in other capital cities around Australia (see ACF online and Say Yes Australia on Facebook). The Melbourne event, organised as were the others by Say Yes Australia, featured as speakers Don Henry of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Peter Marshall of the United Firefighters’ Union, and climate activist Jenna Farrington, with music provided by Blue King Brown, and was certainly a success as a rally, but it was obvious that at least many had come prepared for a march to follow the speeches, and were disappointed when it was announced that no march was planned. Some did indeed take up the MC’s suggestion to march on their own, and no doubt it would have seemed that the elaborate arrangements for the band would have gone for little if no-one had stayed around to listen, but it did look like an opportunity missed…

Peter Marshall speaking
Peter Marshall was the first speaker, dealing with the costs of fires and natural disasters of the last few years as something that had to be taken into account when politicians were weighing up the costs of taking action of climate change, specifically the question of a fair price on carbon. There should be no debate any longer about the need for action, it was clear that something was happening in the climate that was implicated in these events. (See also an opinion piece by Peter Marshall in The Age, 12 Feb 2009.)

Jenna Farrington speaking
He was followed by Jenna Farrington, introduced as ‘a mother and climate activist’, who focussed on the future faced by children: she wanted the best for her children, for the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu to be there for them, they should not have to worry about water security and so on. She saw a sell out to the big polluters; politicians needed to have guts, the battle could still be won, solar, wind and clean energy sources could meet all the country’s needs, and other countries were in fact leaving Australia behind. She wanted to be able to answer ‘yes’ when her children one day asked her if she had done anything to combat climate change, ending with the reminder that ‘we do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.’

Don Henry speaking
Third and final speaker was Don Henry, Chief Executive of the Australian Conservation Foundation, who amongst other things quoted from the recent report of the Federal Government’s Climate Commission – The Critical Decade (summary here, the full report available here.) He listed the main things that had to be done now, a price a pollution, given that while pollution was free the polluters would go on polluting, assistance to households and industries to cope with the changes, a start now on building a safe economy, protection of the environment, noting the vast amounts of carbon held by the forests of Tasmania, for example… and ended by leading a chorus of ‘yesses’ to a list of demands. (Don Henry’s speech was quoted at some length in the media reports, such as the Age item already mentioned.)

Blue King Brown played both before and after the speakers, and were enthusiastically received:

Band playing

Band in action

Band in action

Lead singer

Part of crowd listening to band

Another part of the crowd

Amongst the crowd there were those who had themselves come prepared to make music, as these members of Unite:

Members of Unite with instruments

And there was wide range of placards and banners, some of which can be seen in the photos below, in no special order:

People arriving at rally with 'Yes' banner

Young woman with 'Say yes' placard

Stop HRL banner

Anti-coal placards

Milk Sucks - part of vegan contingent

Detail of vegan placard

Placard - How much are your grandchildren worth?

CPSU banner at edge of rally

Placard - No Desalination Plant

Climarte banner

Placard - Carbon footprint: size does matter

Banner of Darebin Climate Action Now

Darebin Greens with banner

Placard - less fuel for a crazy world

Placard - Australia, Don't be a pissant

Placard - Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share

Placard with pro-solar quote from Thomas Edison

Turtles against Climate Change

Closeup of turtle