No New Coal

Shovelling coal off the train and chanting "leave it in the ground"

Knitting Nannas were among over 130 No New Coal protesters at Sandgate who stopped a coal train heading to the Port of Newcastle on Sunday. The protesters stood beside the track causing the train to halt, then nearly fifty people climbed up ladders to the top of a coal wagon or stood in front of it. They unfurled a banner reading “Survival Guide for humanity – NO NEW COAL” and shovelled coal out of the wagon. A bigger group of activists gathered outside the rail fence where they sang and chanted for hours. Police eventually arrested all 49 people who were on the railway property.

Knitting Nannas at Camp for Climate Action organised by Rising Tide
Knitting Nannas at Camp for Climate Action organised by Rising Tide

Many were led away by police, including 63-year-old Sydney Nanna Eury: “Scientists and the UN agree. This is the final decade we have to ensure a liveable planet for future generations. We, Nannas, have exhausted every legal opportunity possible to raise the alert, but coal and gas projects are still being approved.  Although we don’t want to be arrested, we and thousands of others are committed to doing everything we can to stop further fossil fuel projects being approved in Australia.”   

Court attendance notices were issued to 47 people for offences including obstructing a train, entering inclosed lands and interfering with business.

Two other men were also charged with damage to property and another with common assault. Two were granted bail to appear before Newcastle Local Court on Thursday 1 June 2023. The third man was refused bail and appeared before the Court on Monday 17 April and bail was granted.

This was on day three of a four day #ClimateCamp2023 in Newcastle organised by Counteract and Rising Tide Newcastle. Sydney, Hunter and Central Coast Knitting Nannas joined people of all ages and background and abilities to network, plan and take action against a major contributor to the climate crisis, the world’s biggest coal port in Newcastle.

“It wasn’t a small group of radicals but an old, young, disabled, diverse crowd, showing that society as a whole are concerned, and because of the inclusiveness it will grow,” said Nanna Lyn.

Some of Australia’s best and most effective climate scientists and activists gave inspirational and thought-provoking presentations and workshops. Guest speakers included

  • Professor Lesley Hughes, The Climate Council
  • Coedie McAvoy, Waddanangu Cultural Custodian
  • Richard Denniss, Director of the Australia Institute
  • Dr Ruchira Takulda, Sapna South Asian climate solidary
  • Sue Higginson MLC, The Greens, environmental lawyer

“It was an amazing weekend,” said Nanna Cath, “so thoughtfully planned by the Rising Tide team. The program was designed to support every participant’s concerns and fears of the deadly climate crisis humans now face.”

“The weekend was a beacon for everyone who wants to see some real climate action” said Sydney Nanna Marie. “A significant number of people came together in an act of non-violent civil disobedience with a clear target, and at the scene of the crime. And it was widely covered in mainstream and social media, including on the BBC. We said to our federal and state governments that we’re onto their climate denial and we’re standing against any new fossil fuel mines.”

The Climate Camp aimed to revitalise a diverse and powerful grassroots climate justice movement. Rising Tide is seeking 10,000+ people to take a Climate Defence Pledge and commit to join a civil resistance movement to break the fossil fuel industry’s hold over Australia’s democracy and force State and Federal Governments to concede to their demands:

  •  Immediately cancel all new coal mines and expansions.
  • Stop all coal mining and coal exports through Newcastle Port by 2030.
  • Coal workers and communities must be supported as Australia moves beyond coal.

Labor’s climate targets are an important shift from the Coalition’s denial and delay, but they are not enough. The Federal Government’s policy is underpinned by dodgy offsets, it continues to support fossil fuel expansions and fails to address existing carbon bombs, like coal exports from Newcastle.

The tide of community outrage has turned against consecutive governments who knowingly aid and abet the fossil fuel industry. This is what democracy looks like.

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