The Cairns People’s Climate March was a huge success!
On Saturday 28 November 2015, more than 400 people took part in the Cairns People’s Climate March.
The event attracted excellent media coverage (radio, print and TV) and was mentioned in Queensland Parliament by Rob Pyne MP.
Many beautiful photos from the day have been shared around Australia by hundreds of people on social media.
Families, activists, Labor members, Greens, union delegates, academics, Torres Strait Islanders… people from all walks of life came out on what turned out to be a very hot morning: a sign of climate changes to come. We were welcomed to Gimuy Walubarra Yidinji Country by Gudju Gudju with a moving speech. A sea of people in colourful shirts filled the Esplanade, representing all the many reasons to march (for renewable energy solutions, for solidarity with those on the front lines of climate dangers, for health and science, for biodiversity and so on). Hundreds of creative hand-painted banners decorated the event, sharing messages about what we all want to preserve – our one earth – and overcome – dangerous climate change.
UN Paris climate talks – the global policy context
The reason for this event was to show our political leaders that people all around Australia and the world want strong action to reduce greenhouse emissions. The UN Paris Climate talks (21st Conference of the Parties, or COP21) commenced straight after the People’s Climate Marches set the scene with 600,000 people out in the streets all over the world.
Now the Paris talks have concluded, environment movement and civil society responses vary. There is optimism that for the first time in history, the majority of world leaders have agreed to set binding targets: the Paris Agreement aims to achieve no more than 2 degree global temperature rise (or even 1.5 degrees in a new aspirational target), and now needs 55 countries, producing minimum 55% of the world’s greenhouse emissions to ratify it. For a range of optimistic world leaders’ tweets see the official COP21 website; for summary and analysis see The Conversation and ACF). There is also pessimism that the Paris Agreement doesn’t offer enough (see summary here), that “as long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned” (James Hansen), and concern around issues of equity between developed and developing countries (including Indigenous peoples) each carrying their fair share of climate responsibility (see here, and here).
Want the latest climate change science? Download the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) fifth Climate Change synthesis report.
Cairns event wrap up
A big thank you to our excellent guest speakers: Indigenous local custodian Gudju Gudju; Senator Jan McLucas; Member for Cairns Rob Pyne MP; Cairns Mayoral Candidate Jim Brooks for Connect Cairns; Greens FNQ spokesperson Brynn Matthews; academic and former resident of the Pacific Islands, David Tibbetts, and Fiona Ryan and Nina Bailey from CAFNEC and CCAN.
A huge thanks also to the team organising and hosting the Cairns People’s Climate March: CAFNEC Community Engagement Officer Nina Bailey, MC members Sarah and Roz, and the original and the new members of Cairns Climate Action Network (CCAN), particularly Fiona, Edith, Graeme, Lisa, Carmel, Ashley, Jonathan, Anthony and to Andy Mack for MC’ing the event.