Six climate camp participants who entered into railway land to stop coal trains at Carrington coal terminal and were arrested during Newcastle Climate Camp in July 2008 will contest charges in court next week.
The groups' legal team will argue that the acts of civil disobedience were necessary to prevent a greater harm – runaway climate change.
Professor Andy Pitman, Co-Director of the University of New South Wales Climate Change Research Centre and one of the lead authors on the 2001 and 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, has provided an expert witness statement to the court.
“Climate change is a runaway train”, said Hazel Blunden, one of the six defendants. “If we don’t act very soon to put the brakes on, we may reach a tipping point, after which action will be too late to avoid catastrophic effects such as melting ice caps leading to sea level rise.
“Climate change impacts are happening much faster than predicted by scientists, yet federal and state governments are only taking tokenistic action – which is why I and many other people feel morally compelled to take non-violent direct action.
Professor Pitman’s report says that available estimates point strongly to the actual emissions exceeding the worst-case scenario used by the IPCC. That is, emissions are accelerating more quickly than thought possible.
Hazel Blunden said, “The coal industry is creating tonnes of greenhouse gases a year, both here and overseas. Coal should be phased out, starting now.
“Coal is Australia’s largest commodity export and Newcastle is Australia’s largest coal port.
“In 2008-2009, Waratah Coal exported 91.4 million tonnes of coal through its Carrington and Kooragang Terminals, which is why the 2008 Climate Camp protests focused on this port.
“We’re not only creating greenhouse gases here by burning coal – we’re exporting climate change to the rest of the world as well.
The case will follow on from the high-profile Kingsnorth case in the UK, where Greenpeace activists were found not guilty of malicious damage to a coal power station smokestack, and trial of the Drax 29 in Wales, who stopped a coal train on its way to a power station.
Where: Newcastle Local Court, corner Chruch and Bolton Sts. Newcastle
When: Wednesday, July 29, Trial starts at 9.30am
Who: The six defendants: Hazel Blunden, Emma Brindal, Edward Cranswick, Chris Doran, Ashwyn Falkingham, and Kristy Walters.