From Paris to the Pilliga

May 28, 2016

Image courtesy of Jo Evans

Image courtesy of Jo Evans

At 3.15am on Tuesday 9 February we scrambled out of bed in time to meet other ‘climate angels’ from the Pilliga Push camp on the Newell Highway 6kms northwards. From there it was about a 45-minute drive to Santos’ Narrabri Gas Project that is constructing 850 coal seam gas wells in the Pilliga State Forest. In addition to threatening the largest inland forest left in Eastern Australia, Santos’ project sits above a critically important ‘recharge zone’ supporting the crucial pressure head enabling ground water from the Great Artesian Basin to flow to the surfaces of the massive expanse of land dependent on it (yep, think growing food).


Image courtesy of Jo Evans

When we heard that grandmothers were being pepper sprayed by police at the Pilliga blockade we decided to make the major detour from our original trip to Sydney. This happened within days of leaving for our appearance as guest artists in Janet Laurence’s exquisite experiential art installation H2O: Water Bar in the iconic Paddington Reservoir Gardens.

Arriving at the blockade site before dawn we hurriedly dressed in our long white gowns and shimmery large wings. After a brief lesson in peaceful portending we unfurled the same Red Line fabric that helped lead a crowd of more than 10,000 through the streets of Paris on D12 (12 December 2015) of COP21. Activists from all around the world had marched that Red Line around five kms from L’avenue de la Grande Armée to the Eifel Tower where the bridge over the River Seine was occupied for more than an hour. The Red Line symbolises a crossing of the Earth’s critical physical and social limits; it marks a non-negotiable no go zone where wholesale systems collapse.

Deborah Hart appeals to Police

Image courtesy of Jo Evans

Are we environmentalists impatient and/or overly demanding do you think? Given that the basic physics of global warming was understood in 1824 and the first UN ‘Earth Summit’ to make a declaration re the seriousness of climate change was held in 1972 nearly half a century ago?

Why then have polluters continued to enjoy ‘A reserve’ seats at UN climate negotiations while community groups representing billions of us concerned citizens have increasingly been locked out? Really, that escalating justifiable anger and frustration of ordinary people should spill out onto the streets and manifest in fossil fuel project blockades everywhere should be coming as no surprise to leaders and/or investors anywhere.

Meanwhile, many parts of the world are already reeling from ongoing crop failures and natural disasters as a direct result of climate change. We are witnessing mass migration triggered by droughts long warned of by scientists.

As evidenced by the massive turnout, not even the horrific terrorism unleashed in Paris on the eve of COP21, and the subsequent ban on public protesting, could keep tens of thousands of people from taking their concerns to the streets in determined defiance to demand real action to curb global warming.

Like every fossil fuel project that threatens local environments and the global climate, we believe that Santos’ Narrabri Gas Project must be stopped. Thus it was with great pride and determination that we stretched the red line from the Paris D12 march across the service road leading to Santos’ Narrabri worksite.

And thus on 9 February 2016, after three years of peacefully and strategically intercepting without any personal consequences, the first flock of Climate Guardians were arrested.

The charged Climate Guardians will appear at Downing Centre Local Court Sydney on Monday at 10am, 30 May 2016. If you can’t come to support them then a post or tweet would be heavenly and most appreciated by ‘Angels’.

Ps for the record every Climate Guardian arrested in the Pilliga can easily recall what they were doing in the summer of 1972 when delegates were arriving at the inaugural ‘Earth Summit’ in Stockholm….the patience of Angels.