By Blair Palese, 350 Australia Chief Executive
The dust is settling on a hectic Accelerate Climate Action tour. Lead by 350.org’s co-founder, the world-renowned author and environmentalist Bill McKibben, we were able to cover a surprisingly large part of Australia – from the Hunter Valley coal hub to the Great Barrier Reef and hosting public talks in Newcastle, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide. All this in eight days!
Along the way, the 350.org team engaged with a remarkable set of people. More than 1,800 attended Bill’s talks in person, and live streams of his talks allowed 23 community groups and hundreds of individuals to take part. In addition there were roundtables with councils, state and federal politicians, campaigners, academics and unions, and business lunches with corporate representatives leading the move on a low carbon economy in Australia.
Traveling with Bill’s tour, I sensed a momentous change sweeping our country of people, companies and organisations taking action against climate change on their own despite our government’s failure to lead. It lead me to reflect on what a great success the 350 movement, with your participation, has been in Australia and across the world.
I was reminded of the success of organisations such as Future Super — a company that now manages more than $500 million in funds while steadfastly sticking to its fossil free agenda. Co-founder and Managing Director Simon Sheikh says that setting up Future Super was inspired by Bill McKibben’s Do the Maths tour back in 2013.
The influence of 350 and all we do can be seen far and wide.
I’m inspired by the fact that more than US$6 trillion has been divested from fossil fuels — a campaign that started with councils, churches and NGOs and is now embraced by large investment and superannuation funds, by banks and insurance giants. I remember the big days of action — Breakfree in 2016, or the #StopAdani National Day of Action last year and the #StopAdani Roadshow. Tens of thousands of Australians have taken part in their own local actions that have brought unrelenting pressure on our biggest institutions like Westpac and the Commonwealth Bank to up their climate change efforts.
I am extremely proud of 350 Australia’s role in these defining moments of the climate fight, both in Australia, and as a part of the global effort.
Of course none of this would have been possible without the amazing 350 community that provides support in many forms from people taking part in actions and volunteering skills to being politically active and taking action online.
Naturally, none of this would exist without our financial supporters.
Bill McKibben has left our shores but we will ensure that his message to accelerate climate action continues to be heard. 350 Australia will work tirelessly to stop all new fossil fuel projects including Adani’s proposed mega coal mine, fracking in the NT, coal expansion in the Hunter Valley and a proposed new gas plant for Newcastle. We will be there.
We will also work to ensure our politicians can’t get off the hook for ignoring the issue of our time. We will continue to pressure our major political parties on issues such as the proposed National Energy Guarantee, or NEG, that would do more harm than good, for a commitment to 100% renewable energy and to stand up to the fossil fuel industry.
The good news is, the news is not all bad! 350 will work to recognise all the great work now underway toward a green future. We will be promoting and shining a light on the amazing innovations and heros that are working diligently to build Australia’s low carbon economy.
At this time of year we tend to think about giving to our favourite charities. Australia is a generous nation when it comes to giving, but it is only reasonable to know that your dollars are being put to good use. If you want decisive meaningful action on climate change then we hope that you will consider 350.org Australia this year.
I hope I can count on your support.