Bay climate change activists stand in solidarity with Australia

Extinction Rebellion members protest yesterday at Njoli Square in Kwazakhele against climate change, pointing to its role in driving the Australian bush infernos
Extinction Rebellion members protest yesterday at Njoli Square in Kwazakhele against climate change, pointing to its role in driving the Australian bush infernos
Image: fredlin adriaan

From Kwazakhele to Down Under, the planet is facing a climate-change crisis and the only remedy is action in unity.

That was the message from members of Extinction Rebellion who gathered in Njoli Square in the Port Elizabeth township yesterday afternoon to protest against the Australian bushfires and their link to climate change.

Nicole Collier-Naidoo said the initiative was undertaken in solidarity with similar protests mounted by the organisation on Thursday and yesterday in 35 countries around the world.

“It’s about collective mourning for their losses, which are also our losses.

“This is not just something happening in faraway Australia. It’s a signpost for what we all can expect if we do not radically and urgently alter our trajectory.”

Standing in cardboard boxes painted like flames, Collier-Naidoo and her fellow activists waved posters declaring their support for Australia and warning posters, some of which read “Whole Ecosystems are Collapsing” to catch the eye of pedestrians, motorists and taxi drivers at the busy Njoli intersection.

Extinction Rebellion argues that the Australian government’s endorsement of land clearing and reduction of carbon absorption capacity on the one hand and carbon-intensive development like coal mining on the other are at the heart of the catastrophe because of their role in driving climate change, which in turn most scientists concur triggered the fires.

In line with this thinking, most of the protests have targeted Australian embassies or the offices of German industrial manufacturing giant Siemens for its role in developing the Carmichael coal mine, the world’s biggest, in the Galilee Basin in Queensland.

At least 28 people have died nationwide in Australia as a result of the fires and in the state of New South Wales alone more than 3,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged.

One group of ecologists has estimated that half a billion wild animals have perished and species like the long-footed potoroo, the greater glider, the Kangaroo Island dunnart and the black-tailed dusky antechinus will probably be obliterated.

The organisation’s national Australian spokesperson, Jane Morton, said the climate crisis knew no borders.

“We need co-ordinated, international action to combat this mess. The Bushfire Rebellion is only the beginning. Two-thirds of Australians want the government to declare a climate emergency and mobilise at world-war scale.

“We are living through the tipping point that the scientists have been warning us about — anything less than an emergency response condemns our children to an unlivable future.”

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