SYDNEY – Greenpeace activists scaled on Tuesday the Sydney Harbour Bridge demanding that the Australian government declare a climate emergency, while police arrested 13 people.
Before sunrise, three activists were found abseiling from the bridge holding placards which read “100% Renewables” while on land they were accompanied by a group of people who have been affected by disasters caused by 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,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific CEO, David Ritter, said in a statement.
“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,” the Greenpeace statement added.
The protesters included residents of the city of Townsville in northeastern Australia, which at the beginning of the year was affected by the worst floods in decades.
“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,” protesters Andrew and Amelia Rankin said in the statement.
The police of New South Wales – whose capital is Sydney – said in a statement that it had arrested 13 people, including the three professional climbers who were abseiling from the bridge in a sea and land operation that lasted more than three hours.
Climate change is one of the main issues of debate in the upcoming federal elections in Australia on Saturday.
A group of indigenous Torres Strait islanders lodged a formal complaint against the Australian government at the UN on Monday, claiming that their climate inaction violated their basic human rights.
The Australian government has pledged to reduce emissions by at least 26 percent by 2030 with respect to 2005 levels, a target that the independent Climate Council says will not be achieved.