Climate emergency warning from Sydney Harbour Bridge

SYDNEY, May 14, 2019 - Greenpeace supporters have occupied the Sydney Harbour Bridge to demand that Prime Minister Scott Morrison declare a climate emergency.

Specialist trained climbers have abseiled from the iconic structure. The protestors are joined on the ground by Australians from across the country who have had their lives turned upside down by the impacts of climate change.

“Climate damage is happening right now. Australia is facing a climate emergency right now. Our political leaders must listen to those already affected by climate disaster and act,” said Greenpeace Australia Pacific CEO, David Ritter.

“Burning coal is the number one cause of climate change in Australia – but politicians from both major parties have no plan for making coal history, even though they know it puts our health, our homes and our families at risk. We’re here today to say ‘no more’.

“Rural and regional Australian families have borne the brunt of climate impacts so far in this country. Today Australians who have survived climate disasters have come to the centre of Sydney to demand action because they are sick of being ignored.”

“Climate change is also contributing to the global nature crisis – with scientists now warning that up to one million species are facing extinction. But we are also here in the spirit of hope.  We have the solutions and it is not too late to change course, to a flourishing future powered by clean energy.”

Queenslanders Andrew and Amelia Rankin, whose Townsville home was flooded earlier this year joined the protestors on the ground. “We’ve lived in Townsville for more than 20 years and in that time we’ve experienced many floods. But the one earlier this year was like nothing we’d ever seen before,” Ms Rankin said.

“As our house was going underwater, I was talking to my mum and dad on the phone in Tasmania. As Townsville was flooding, Tasmania was burning. This is the price we’re paying for our politicians’ obsession with coal.”

Independent Bega Valley Shire Councillor Jo Dodds, whose home was surrounded by flames in the Tathra bushfires last year, questioned what further warnings governments needed to act on climate change.

“I almost lost my house in Tathra to a catastrophic bushfire last year. I was lucky but many of my friends and neighbours lost everything,” she said.

“We’re seeing increasingly intense bushfires, and longer bushfire seasons than ever before in Australia. This is driven by climate change – and coal is the number one cause of climate change in Australia.

“Many people in my community have now felt the devastating impact of climate destruction. Others, like me, were lucky. But luck won’t keep any of us safe in an increasingly dangerous future. Politicians need to take urgent action and make coal history now.“

In October the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that countries around the world have less than 12 years to make urgent changes to avoid a climate catastrophe. The Coalition has rejected the IPCC’s call to phase out coal power.


1 A breakdown of the causes of greenhouse gas emissions by sector in Australia is available in the Climate Council’s reportAustralia’s Rising Greenhouse Gas Emissions, 2018.

CSIRO monitoring at Cape Grim shows greenhouse gas emissions have continued to climb over last 40 years. The level of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere is now higher than at any time over the past 800,000—and possibly 20 million—years.

High-resolution images of the campaigners and climbers will be available to download throughout the day here:

Bios and photos of the climate change affected spokespeople are available at

For interviews with spokespeople from across Australia and the protestors on the Bridge contact Martin Zavan, Greenpeace Australia Pacific Communications Campaigner

+61 424 295 422   | [email protected]

To arrange in-studio & phone interviews throughout the day with spokespeople contact Liz Stephens on 0407 224469 | [email protected]