Last weekend, the climate movement lost one of its brightest and most inspiring activists. Pete Gray, member of Newcastle Rising Tide, died on Saturday after battling with cancer for the past two years.
As an activist, Pete simply did not stop finding creative and ingenious ways to block dirty, destructive projects and protect the environment. In 2006, Pete won a landmark case in the NSW Land and Environment Court that forced tougher scrutiny of coal mine emissions in Australia. Even as he passed away, he and his partner were taking on Bayswater power station, Australia’s largest point-source of greenhouse gas emissions, attempting to have the power station’s emissions regulated through the courts. This case continues.
Pete was also willing to put his body on the line and to take direct action for the causes he cared about. He was the original instigator of what is now an annual flotilla in Newcastle harbour, disrupting the movement of ships for a day at the world’s largest coal export port. He has been arrested many times – usually with a big smile on his face – in protests against the expansion of the coal industry and has helped many more direct actions take place from behind the scenes. Pete played a key role in the 2008 climate camp in which around 1000 people took place in civil disobedience to protest the expansion of coal exports. This video of Pete on the day show the spirit and passion that led Pete to be an inspiration for so many.
Pete was also an accomplished protector of Australian native and old-growth forests, helping many campaigns that have resulted in areas of Australian forests being locked up and secured from the chainsaw. A passionate opponent of the Iraq war, Pete knew how to get his message across. In opposition to the death and misery suffered by the Iraqi people, he threw his shoes at John Howard on Q&A, an action inspired by the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George W Bush.
Pete was one of those people whose creativity, courage and spirit provided hope and inspiration to those around him and the climate movement is stronger because of him. For all who are reading this, you should know that Pete stood up repeatedly and courageously for you and your planet.
We are so sorry to lose you Pete, but far more glad that we had the chance to know you and work with you for a better world.