As a grass-roots organisation, there are always things that come up that don’t fall under one campaign. The government often surprises the public with announcements (almost all bad) that need a response. Groups and organisations reach out to us for help or just to start a dialogue. And sometimes there are just amazing or important things happening that we want to be a part of.
Why direct action?
Peaceful direct action (or civil disobedience) has a long and proud tradition in movements for social change and has always been a part of Quit Coal. Direct Action has been used to challenge unjust and immoral laws by activists such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, and in our view the laws that protect the fossil fuel industry are unjust and immoral. These laws permit the destruction of our environment and a recklessly dangerous level of greenhouse gas emissions, endangering the livelihood of future generations.
Challenging these laws is in our view a valid way of drawing attention to their immorality, and spurring debate and change within society. It may not win everyone over, but Quit Coal is only one part of a broad movement encompassing a diverse array of groups and organisations using a broad range of tactics. There is no single group, or ‘silver bullet’ approach that will achieve climate justice on its own, however Quit Coal believes that direct action and civil disobedience makes an important contribution to the broader environment movement, just as it has been an important part of movements (such as those for racial and gender equality) in the past.
Responsive Direct Action
When the government announces unjust laws, throws away billions of dollars of tax-payer money, treats people unfairly or denies to acknowledge the impacts of climate change, we try to respond.
When the State Government announces that it will be scrapping carbon emission targets, we respond; staging a die-in and a lock on at Treasury Place. When the State and Federal Governments pledges $90million to brown coal expansion, we respond; dropping a banner off Parliament and locking 10 people onto the pillars at the front.
When the government continues to give millions of dollars of subsidies to polluting power station, we respond; occupying the cooling towers of Yallourn Power Station for 24 hours.
There are so many amazing talks, events and protests going on that aren’t strictly part of a Quit Coal campaign but that we can’t resist getting involved in.
In Bacchus Marsh, the local community is fiercely and successfully fighting plans to build a huge new open cut brown coal mine there. Toxic coal dust containing arsenic and lead would blow over this food-growing region, completely crippling the thriving agriculture and tourism industries there. The coal would need to be dried in order to export, a dangerous, emissions intensive and relatively untested process. Quit Coal has been proud to help the amazing local Moorabool Environment Group to mobilise and organise the local community into stopping this plan.
We urgently need to ‘quit coal’. But what does this mean for the workers and communities who currently depend on the coal industry? In August this year, some people from Quit Coal headed out to Morwell to participate in three “Community Roundtable Discussions”. These talks were aimed at connecting workers with environmentalists to try and find a way to have a just transition away from fossil fuels that won’t destroy communities in the Latrobe Valley. Quit Coal has been supporting the workers at Yallourn Power Station in their long running disputes with their multi-national company and supports amazing initiatives like Earthworker, that are trying to bring alternative industry to the area. See more under our Just Transitions section.
Under the government’s hungry scheme to dry and sell dirty Victorian brown coal, the Port of Hastings has been earmarked as a port to be expanded and exported from. In order for this to be possible, the port would have to be expanded to double the size of the Port of Melbourne.
This expansion could enable up to 33 billion tonnes of coal to be shipped off and burnt, laughing in the face of attempts to curb emissions. Quit Coal joined Westernport and Peninsula Protection Council Inc on Saturday the 9th of November to protest against this expansion and the unacceptable risks to the environments of Westernport and its people.
Quit Coal is run on the fuel of volunteers. If you want to be a part of Direct Action’s or other action, go to our Get Involved page.
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