13 activists, including myself, appeared in court today after we took part in a peaceful Greenpeace protest last year. We shut down coal loading equipment at the Munmorah coal-fired power station and painted the message "Coal Kills" on its roof, in order to highlight the fact that our atmosphere is being choked with greenhouse gases, caused primarily from burning fossil fuels such as coal. Phasing out coal and replacing it with clean, renewable energy will be inevitable if we are to make the necessary cuts in greenhouse pollution to avoid dangerous climate change.
As a result of taking part in this action I now have a criminal record. Am I proud of the fact that I now have a record? Of course not. But I am proud to have taken part in an action that forced the issue of climate change squarely onto the public agenda, ensuring that climate change remained a key issue in last year's election. I'd do it again tomorrow.
Let's put the idea of breaking the law for a cause into some perspective. What happens if we don't avert runaway climate change? We can look forward to a world of extreme weather events, sea-level increases in the order of metres, resource constriction in many parts of the world (and likely conflict over resources), and general social, political, economic, environmental and cultural upheaval. Are any of us convinced that this knowledge is being taken seriously and acted upon?
More than ever before, the world needs activism. The world needs civil disobedience. The world needs to be reminded of the triumphs of the suffragettes, the American civil rights movement, the great Salt March. They say that history repeats itself: as long as you act peacefully and nonviolently, the world needs you to do what you can to speak out and force decision-makers and powerholders to make the changes required to avoid dangerous climate change. Every action helps - never discount the power of speaking out. Sign the petitions, take part in the protest marches, demand action from decision-makers. But think about taking it further. If you are prepared to contemplate acting outside of the law for the sake of avoiding dangerous climate change - and you're not going to harm anyone or anything in doing so - then I applaud you and encourage you to get involved however you can.
Greenpeace is supporting the Camp for Climate Action this July, where people can learn more about climate change and how to use civil disobedience to demand climate solutions. You will be able to meet others in the climate movement, learn methods and theories of nonviolent direct action and plan for the next vital wave of mass civil disobedience.
In the meantime, there is plenty else you can do. Greenpeace is campaigning to end taxpayer-funded handouts to the polluting fossil fuel industry and you can take the first steps in becoming part of our campaign by signing our petition. Make your voice heard today.
Mahatma Ghandi said "The future depends on what we do in the present" and with the future looking increasingly precarious, I encourage you to be part of the peaceful movement to avert dangerous climate change in any way you can.