Thousands of demonstrators have rallied across Australia to demand
greater government action to protect the environment. A series of
so-called National Climate Emergency Rallies have been held across the
country to demand Australia take the lead at the Copenhagen environment
summit in December.
protesters, dressed in red to highlight the perils of global warming,
demanded that the Australian government take a decisive role at the U.N.
summit in Copenhagen later this year that hopes to hammer out a global
deal on climate change.
From December 7, environment ministers
and officials will meet in the Danish capital to try to agree on a
successor to the Kyoto Protocol, the first phase of which expires in
Activists also want an end to Australia's dependence on
coal. Though inexpensive and abundant, its use makes Australia one of
the world's worst per capita emitters of greenhouse gases, which many
scientists believe contribute to the warming of the earth.
Sydney, rally organizer Moira Williams says that a coalition of trade
unions and religious groups, as well as students and environmental
campaigners, is pushing for change.
"We need to be making
these alliances and be stronger than the fossil fuel industry that
currently has such a strong grip on climate policy in Australia," said
Williams. "That is the positive in this rally and in this year that we
need to build that movement and it does need to come from the ground up
because at the moment we are not seeing any action from the top down."
Scientists have warned that Australia is particularly vulnerable to the effects of a shifting climate.
temperatures increase, there are predictions that coastal communities
will be threatened by rising sea levels, while other parts of the
country could suffer more severe droughts, cyclones and bushfires.
The government in Canberra has repeatedly stressed that tackling climate change is a priority.
is proposing what could be the most sweeping cap-and-trade system in
the world that would force larger companies to pay for their carbon
emissions. About 1,000 of the country's biggest polluters, from
transport operators and aluminium producers to gas companies and
refineries, would have to buy permits to allow them to emit carbon.
The legislation is due to be debated in Australia's upper house of parliament, the Senate, next week.
have said that the proposed trading scheme will help to curb pollution,
although business leaders believe the project will cost jobs. Green
groups say the measures are not tough enough to help the environment.