News / Environment

Climate rally calls for urgent switch to renewables

Activists say Moreland Council should phase out gas heating of its swimming pools

Brunswick rally organiser Jacob Andrewartha with other activists at Warr Park on Saturday.

Mark Phillips
Sunday, November 7, 2021

SMALL but enthusiastic groups of climate change activists gathered around Moreland on Saturday to make their voices heard as part of a global day of action demanding world leaders adopt more ambitious policies to cut carbon emissions.

About 30 people attended a rally at Warr Park in Brunswick, the first time such public gatherings were possible since the lifting of Melbourne’s COVID-19 lockdown.

Rallies organised by the Climate Coalition of Moreland were also held at the same time in Coburg and Newlands.

They heard from speakers calling for the federal, state and local governments to take urgent action to reduce global warming.

The rallies were timed to coincide with the COP26 global climate summit being held in Glasgow, where governments have been haggling over how to set more ambitious targets to cut emissions by 2030.

Prior to the summit, the Morrison Government in Australia struck a deal with its coaltion partners in the National Party to aim for net-zero emissions by 2050.

But Brunswick rally organiser Jacob Andrewartha said the Australian plan was really a preservation of the status quo.

“Within this plan, the government is still committed to subsidising fossil fuel companies and will continue to burn fossil fuels,” he told the gathering.

“As members of the Moreland community and within Australian society we need to demand better than what our political leaders are offering us.

“We need all hands on deck: in workplaces, communities, schools, universities to create a movement that is so powerful it forces governments and corporations to act.”

Mr Andrewartha said the City of Moreland could make a symbolic and tangible stride to net zero emissions by phasing out gas heating at its swimming pools.

Brunswick MP Tim Read told the rally that in the absence of a real plan from the Morrison Government, it had been left to the states and territories to take the lead on combatting climate change.

Action from the coal and spoon race, eventually won by “energy suppliers”.

He said the ACT was already at 100% net renewable energy, and while Victoria had got to 30% primarily through solar panels on the rooves of houses, it still relied heavily on fossil fuels.

He said Victoria’s electricity generators continued to burn 100,000 tonnes a day – which if piled up would be the same height as a tall city office building – and was allowing the natural gas extraction industry to grow.

“This is something the Andrews government is very keen to avoid mentioning,” he said.

“They’re very big on their renewable energy and they deserve congratulations for their renewable energy projects, but whenever we talk about climate change they point to their solar homes project to the point where it’s becoming a bit of a fig leaf to cover up for the fact they’re very sluggish on closing down coal fired power stations.”

Mr Read urged those at the rally to keep up the pressure and predicted that the size of climate protests would grow exponentially as Melburnians became accustomed to gathering in numbers again.

To lift the mood, the rally also enjoyed a “coal and spoon” race – a twist on the traditional egg and spoon race.

The race was won by “energy suppliers” after the “federal government” blew an early lead when it dropped its piece of coal.