The Grandparents Gathering on Sunday 24 November was a great success, with over 100 grandparents and senior citizens attending. (We know the number because we hired 100 chairs; they were all filled and we had to bring out more from inside the house.)
Dr Roy Tasker, Chief Scientific Advisor at Planet Ark, described how he had recently joined Extinction Rebellion out of his total frustration with the lack of urgent, effective action by our federal government on reducing fossil fuel demand and supply. He explained that because 75% of our energy in Australia is still supplied by coal, we are the highest per capita emitters of carbon in the world. He said: ‘Unless we turn this around, literally by the end of 2020, we haven’t got a hope of coming down to the sort of targets we need by 2030’.
He then explained that by moving the current fossil fuel economy to a hydrogen economy, and using hydrogen to smelt our second largest current export, iron ore, to make iron, we could create many jobs and become world climate leaders. However, this transition needs to happen very quickly, and urgent lobbying is vital.
He finished by explaining how, because BMCC has declared a Climate Emergency, Planet Ark is going to work with Council to set up a series of electricity microgrids throughout the Blue Mountains, using Planet Ark technology.
Mayor Mark Greenhill then spoke with great conviction of Council’s commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2025. He said: ‘All of us have got to do what we can to convince our nation’s leaders. The issue of climate emergency must be absolutely at the heart of everything we do’.
Tom Lodewyke, the grandson of GCAN convenor Robin Mosman, thanked everyone for attending. ‘Just by your presence here, you all demonstrate that to care about your grandchildren, you have to care about the world and the environment they’re going to live in.’
Robin Mosman then spoke, describing climate change as the greatest security threat Australia has ever faced, worse than that of any war in which we have been involved. She said: ‘The priority of any government should be the protection of its people, but our government is denying that a threat even exists. We have heard that there are no technical or economic impediments to dealing with climate change, only a lack of political will because of the vested interests of the coal lobby, who want to prolong the life of our high-carbon economy as long as possible for short-term financial gain.’
Robin said that it was the determined action of Australia’s citizens that would be the deciding force in shifting our government’s position and described the tool GCAN had created through its website, by which grandparents could play their part, through active and sustained participation. ‘Governments don’t lead, they follow. We have to show them, and keep on showing them, the direction we want them to go.’
At the afternoon tea which followed many of the guests spoke movingly of their gratitude for being given a way by which to take action on this issue which had been worrying them deeply.