Sustained disruption against climate destruction

The Sustainable Hour no. 420 | Podcast notes

“While there is consensus that peaceful protest is an important democratic right, debate remains about where the line between lawful and unlawful protest activity should be drawn.”
~ Tom Gotsis, Research Officer, Law, NSW Parliamentary Research Service, 2015

Our guest in The Sustainable Hour on 13 July 2022 is Alex, a Blockade Australia activist. She is one of the climate activists who took to the streets in Sydney a couple of weeks ago.

Pictures of the activists and their interaction with Police became breaking-news stories on all national tv channels. 21 members of Blockade Australia were arrested that week. Protesters in New South Wales who disrupt major roadways, ports and railways can now be hit with $22,000 fines and up to two years in prison after new laws against so-called “illegal protesting” were passed by the New South Wales government on 1 April 2022, and over the next couple of weeks the people arrested will be in court, answering the charges which arose from them being on the streets.

The Australian mainstream media tend to only tell one side of this story. They give us the lawmakers’ story. In The Sustainable Hour today you will hear what motivates the protestors and why excessive anti-protest laws are not going to stop them.

During our chat with Alex we hear about the infamous raids on Blockade Australia’s camp, how two activists were arrested and taken into custody, where they remain three weeks later without charges, and the authorities there have refused phone contact with friends and family.

Some people condemn Blockade Australia for their disruptive actions, but after listening to Alex, no one can be left in any doubt about her conviction and courage. Unlike other environmental groups Blockade Australia don’t have any set demands. They are pushing back against the very economic system that they believe to be the cause of the climate crisis we face.

You can find out more about Blockade Australia at

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We play a clip from part of the Geelong Renewables Not Gas presentation to the Commission of Enquiry into Viva Energy’s Environmental Effects Statement for their floating gas hub in Corio Bay. This features organiser Sal Fisher who talks about the findings and results of the group’s many activities, and 17-year-old VCE student Lauren Dillon with her very strong plea to the Commission to think of her future when it comes to deciding whether this proposal to build a new fossil fuel project should go ahead or not. The hearing continues until the end of July, and a report will be published in August.

. . .

Colin Mockett’s Global Outlook begins at the United Nations where a report from the world’s top scientists warned that global warming temperatures will rise beyond saving unless countries worldwide cut greenhouse emissions faster than they currently propose. Accepting the report, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said it revealed “a litany of broken climate promises” by governments and corporations and he accused them of “stoking global warming by clinging to harmful fossil fuels.”

“It is a file of shame, cataloguing the empty pledges that put us firmly on track toward an unlivable world,” he said. “Temperatures have already increased by over 1.1°C (2°F) since pre-industrial times, resulting in measurable increases in disasters such as flash floods, extreme heat, more intense hurricanes and longer-burning wildfires, putting human lives in danger and costing governments hundreds of billions of dollars to confront,” he added.

Then to the United Kingdom where there was another warning from (of all people) a group calling themselves ‘Green Tories’ – sitting members of Parliament from the conservative political factions who said that the UK’s climate change impetus might diminish now that Boris Johnston has been forced to resign. Other unnamed members of the UK ruling party said that the nation’s green push might accelerate now because Boris was accomplished at saying one thing and doing another. They said he still hadn’t refused to stop new fossil fuel driven projects which he promised to do in Glasgow.

Still in the UK, Just Stop Oil protesters climbed barriers to disrupt the British Formula 1 Grand Prix at Silverstone. They sat in the middle of the track before being forcibly removed by police. The Grand Prix was stopped, lots of footage was on the news and one of the protesters appeared on Good Morning Britain the following day. Asked by a hostile journalist what was the point of the disruption, he replied: “Well I’m here on national television talking to you about the urgency of climate change so I would judge from that that our protest was a success.”

Three days later, members from the same protest group glued themselves to Leonardo de Vinci’s The Last Supper at the Royal Academy art gallery. Again, this hit the headlines with images on news bulletins around the world.

And finally an online stream from the Irish Times which has sparked a whole lot of reactions worldwide. It started with a tweet supposedly from dinosaurs to today’s humans. It said: ‘Dinosaur to humans: “Going extinct is a bad thing… But driving yourselves to extinction, that’s the most ridiculous thing I ever heard… imagine if we had spent billions of dollars, pounds and euros subsidising giant meteorites.” It’s had more than 1.5 million likes worldwide.

. . .

Missy Higgins takes us out with her plea to us to be “The Difference” after we briefly hear from Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

. . .

That’s it for today – lots to think about there. Should we be able to take to the streets to show our concerns for what has been described as the “greatest threat ever for humanity”? We say a resounding “yes”, and on 30 July you will find us on the streets of Melbourne when we will join thousands of other climate activists for the United Climate Rally.

We’ll be back next week with people who are actively working on solutions to the climate crisis. Hopefully this will continue to inspire all our listeners to find their way to become active in the climate revolution. Be the difference.

“I think public conversations around the climate crisis are extremely important. However I think that we are at the point now where we have to go further than that. Blockade Australia aims to hold periods of sustained disruption to the system that is causing the climate crisis. In doing so we encourage systemic critiques of the reasons why we are in this situation, asking: What are the mechanisms in place that are making change virtually impossible?”
~ Alex, Blockade Australia activist who was involved in recent disruptive actions in Sydney

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We at The Sustainable Hour would like to pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the land on which we
are broadcasting, the Wathaurong People, and pay our respect to their elders, past, present and future.

The traditional owners lived in harmony with the land. They nurtured it and thrived in often harsh conditions for millenia before they were invaded. Their land was then stolen from them – it wasn’t ceeded. It is becoming more and more obvious that, if we are to survive the climate emergency we are facing, we have much to learn from their land management practices.

Our battle for climate justice won’t be won until our First Nations brothers and sisters have their true justice. When we talk about the future, it means extending our respect to those children not yet born, the generations of the future – remembering the old saying that, “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.”
The decisions currently being made around Australia to ignore the climate emergency are being made by those who won’t be around by the time the worst effects hit home. How disrespectful and unfair is that?

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→ The New Daily – 9 July 2022:
Amnesty International says NSW is subverting democracy with tough new anti-protest laws
“Amnesty International has criticised new anti-protest legislation in NSW, saying it has a “chilling effect on the freedom of assembly”.”

An hour with researcher Dr Robyn Gulliver about what the studies say about climate activism and civil disobedience

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→ The Guardian – 11 July 2022:
Humans need to value nature as well as profits to survive, UN report finds
“Focus on market has led to climate crises, with spiritual, cultural and emotional benefits of nature ignored.”

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Get a million homes off gas

The Victorian Greens have announced their first big climate commitment for the November state election: a plan to get one million Victorian homes off gas and for a gas-free Victoria.

Samantha Ratnam wrote in a newsletter on 12 July 2022: 

“Last week, the Victorian Government announced new Victorian homes will no longer be forced to connect to gas, just weeks after the Greens brought a Bill to Parliament to do exactly this.

It’s a small win, but there’s more to be done to move Victoria off gas. Burning gas makes up 17% of Victoria’s climate pollution and right now two million Victorian homes are hooked on this expensive fossil fuel.While the Labor and Liberal parties support new gas drilling, getting off gas is the only way to ensure climate-wrecking projects like gas drilling near the Twelve Apostles don’t go ahead. 

The Greens’ plan to get 1 million homes off gas would provide households up to $6000 in rebates and zero-interest loans to replace polluting gas heating, hot water and cooking with new and efficient electric appliances. You can read all the details here.

This is the critical decade for climate action.With the Victorian election coming up in November, the Greens are pushing the Victorian Government to go further and faster to transition homes to all-electric, powered by 100% renewable energy.

Can you help us build the pressure on other parties and candidates by sharing our plan to get 1 million homes off gas?”

Samantha Ratnam
Leader of the Victorian Greens


→ Independent Australia – 11 July 2022:
Cooking with gas: A gaslit toxic health hazard
“Neither clean nor green, it turns out lauded natural gas is a toxic mix of harmful chemicals that cause asthma and other.”

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Events we have talked about in The Sustainable Hour

Events in Victoria

The following is a collation of Victorian climate change events, activities, seminars, exhibitions, meetings and protests. Most are free, many ask for RSVP (which lets the organising group know how many to expect), some ask for donations to cover expenses, and a few require registration and fees. This calendar is provided as a free service by volunteers of the Victorian Climate Action Network. Information is as accurate as possible, but changes may occur.



List of running petitions where we encourage you to add your name

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The Sustainable Hour is streamed live on the Internet and broadcasted on FM airwaves in the Geelong region every Wednesday from 11am to 12pm (Melbourne time).

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