Climate activists intent on cleaning up the fossil fuel industry’s polluting influence on Australian politics have installed a huge plunger on Tony Abbott’s electoral office, and awarded denialist MP George Christensen the dishonourable ‘Bleached Coral Cup’.
The stunts come as part of a week of demonstrations targeting Federal Parliamentarians accused of blocking action on climate change. Organised by 350.org, the protests aim to draw attention to political donations from coal, oil, and gas companies, and the lucrative subsidies they in turn receive.
Images released by the climate advocacy groups show protestors scaled the roof of Tony Abbott’s electoral office in Manly, unfurling a banner which read “unblock the climate blockers”. No arrests were made.
— 350Australia (@350Australia) May 18, 2016
One of Tony Abbott’s proudest achievement as Prime Minister was repealing the carbon tax, and under his watch investment in renewable energy tanked by 88 per cent while the global industry boomed. Abbott also appointed a climate sceptic to review the Renewable Energy Target, and argued “coal is good for humanity”.
“Abbott once described climate change as ‘absolute crap’ and proceeded to remove effective climate policies from our country,” said local resident Liz Thornton. “As it turned out, the only load of absolute claptrap was Tony Abbott himself, and it’s about time we removed him from our Parliament.”
A string of Conservative Queensland Parliamentarians have also been targeted. Warren Entsch, Ewen Jones, and Jane Prentice were each presented with a Bleached Coral Cup, to draw the link between inaction on climate change and the grim health of the Great Barrier Reef.
But it was Nationals MP George Christensen who received the greatest reproach, at his electoral office in Mackay. A vocal critic of climate action, Christensen believes “it’s hard to tell the difference between an alarmist claim about global effects and the basic premise of a disaster movie plot”.
“The weather and climate in Australia has not changed in the last century but a new religious interpretation has arisen since then,” he declared at an address to the denialist Heartland Institute in 2014.
Local tourism operator Tony Fontes said protestors “fear Mr Christensen’s refusal to accept that the burning of fossil fuels is a major cause of global warming and increasing ocean temperatures will only bring more severe bleaching events into the future”.
The demonstrations build on a 350.org campaign asking Parliamentarians to pledge they’ll stop pocketing donations from coal, oil and gas companies. The group said Federal politicians had received nearly $3.7 million in donations from fossil fuel companies companies over the last three years and that “in return” they’ll receive $7.7 billion back as subsidies in the coming financial year.
According to a recent 350.org report, “That equates to a return on investment for the fossil fuel industry of $2,000 in 2016–17 for every $1 donated to the major parties over the past three years”. The subsidies come mostly in the form of tax breaks on fuel and exploration for more fossil fuels.
Pollution Free Politics campaigner at 350.org, Isaac Astill said that “with an election underway, now is the time to shine a spotlight on the coal and gas industry donations buying the influence of our elected leaders”.
“The time for fancy rhetoric is over,” he said. “A plan for climate action that includes taking money from the fossil fuel industry, and dishing out billions in handouts to the big polluters, is not a plan at all. If politicians are serious about climate change, this cosy relationship must end.”
More Parliamentarians will be targeted over coming days.