People

On the ground at Sydney’s climate crisis protest

On Friday, January 10, Australians came together across the country in an act of solidarity and outrage, to protest for climate action amid the ongoing bushfire crisis affecting the nation. Thousands marched in almost every major city across the country, calling on the government to do more for bushfire relief and support the firefighters working tirelessly to protect communities and, in the long-term, act on the climate crisis to prevent the globe from warming, decreasing the risk of these large-scale natural disasters from becoming the norm. Various speakers lead the charge in Sydney on Friday; among them, Greens Senator for NSW Mehreen Faruqi, who called on the community to stand up for our planet. “We are dealing with a coordinated campaign of disinformation and misinformation … we have no choice but to challenge this with all our might.”

Firefighter of 20 years, Jim Casey of Firefighters for Climate Justice, also demanded attention and resources for the volunteer firefighters across the country: “I’ve been a professional firefighter for more than 20 years in Sydney and Canberra. I’ve never seen anything like it. We need to talk about the elephant on the fireground – the volunteer firefighters. We need to pay them.” Indigenous activist and Uni Students for Climate Justice NSW co-convenor, Gavin Stanbrook, called for mining companies to pay for bushfire relief (“We’re calling on the mining companies to pay for the climate crisis”) and rallied attendees to continue fighting for climate justice. “The reality is that they are not coming to save us. It’s up to us.”

NSW co-convenor Chloe Rafferty of Uni Students for Climate Justice spoke to the crowd about the inherent class issues that continue to arise during the climate crisis. “Thousands of people in one of the richest countries in the world languished on a beach, for not only hours, but days as that town burnt. This is what the climate crisis looks like. The climate crisis is a class issue. How you experience this will be wildly different, whether you’re a working class person, or a poor person, a First Nation person or a person of a colour, whether you’re a refugee from the global south, how you experience this climate crisis will be wildly different from the class who is up to their eyeballs in the fossil fuel industry. There is no one coming to save us, but us.”

The protests pushed for demands that included: relief and aid for fire affected communities, transitions towards renewable energy and immediate steps away from the coal industry including just transitions for workers, land sovereignty for indigenous communities and funding for volunteer firefighters. Here, photographers Megan Nolan and Karolina Kaczynska captured the atmosphere at the rally, and the best signs from the Sydney march.

“The reality is that they are not coming to save us. It’s up to us.” – Gavin Stanbrook

“I’ve been a professional firefighter for more than 20 years in Sydney and Canberra. I’ve never seen anything like it.” – Jim Casey

“The climate crisis is a class issue. How you experience this will be wildly different.” – Chloe Rafferty