Write-up by John Smith, People’s Climate Assembly. 

Advocates for climate action held a rally on the lawns of Parliament House on the first sitting day of the year, to highlight the Australian Government’s nonsensical decision to favour gas over renewable energy to drive Australia’s post-pandemic recovery. The People’s Climate Assembly rally was also intended to draw attention to the petition to the House of Representatives for a #GreenRecoveryNow. You can sign the here[insert link: https://www.aph.gov.au/petition_list?id=EN2239] until 10 February. 

A “Welcome to Pollies”, co-hosted by Stop Adani, Extinction Rebellion and the PCA preceded the rally which was addressed by a number of speakers, including former Wallaby star and social justice advocate, David Pocock; and Independent MP for Warringah, Zali Steggall, as well as Professor Will Steffen, from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society.

Speakers stressed the danger we face as tipping points are passed with catastrophic consequences for our climate, wildlife species and ecosystems, such as the Great Barrier Reef. We are burning the house down, and the government is pouring fossil fuels onto the fire! On the other hand, a green or renewable energy led recovery protects the environment and climate, and creates jobs and a lasting recovery.

Other speakers included Diyan Coe, current Aboriginal Tent Embassy caretaker; Richie Merzian, Climate & Energy Program Director at The Australia Institute; Aoibhinn Crimmins, student activist and former School Strike for Climate leader; Jo Clay, MLA, ACT Greens Member for Ginninderra; Adam Bandt MP, leader of the Federal Greens; and Senators Janet Rice (Greens Victoria) and Mehreen Faruqi (Greens NSW). 

Musical interludes were provided by Matilda Jenkins, Winiata, the MuppaTears, and Discobedience (the XR dance troupe). The Red Rebel Brigade provided dramatic effect to the speeches.

As a finale, we occupied the forecourt to Parliament House, with First Nations attendees in the lead.

There was some positive reporting of the rally, including by both the mainstream right (news.com.au) and mainstream left (SBS World News) – hearts and minds across the country are being won!

Take action: Send an email to Energy Minister Angus Taylor and the ACT MPs and Senators calling for a renewables-led recovery. Then sign the People’s Climate Assembly petition!