CANBERRA—Climate change activists have attempted to disrupt government officials from reaching Parliament House on Tuesday morning ahead of the announcement for the new Federal Budget by blockading roads and chaining themselves to gates and vehicles at a parliamentary car depot.
Members from the Global environmental movement Extinction Rebellion formed multiple blockades covering the entrances to the depot, preventing drivers from reaching Parliament.
Extinction Rebellion had said that members were willing to risk arrest to raise awareness that the federal government needs to address climate change concerns in the upcoming budget.
Jane Morton, one of the Extinction Rebellion protestors said that the government needed to declare a “climate emergency” in the lead up to COP26, the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference.
“I’m here because we’re facing a climate and ecological emergency,” Morton said. “This is the last budget before our Australian representatives go to the international talks in Glasgow in November.”
Morgan also said that the climate emergency posed a more severe threat than that of the COVID-19 pandemic—and needed to be treated as such, without as much concern for cost or economic impact.
“This is an emergency that will make the COVID virus seem like a cakewalk,” she said. “What we need is for the government to declare an emergency, to declare a climate and ecological emergency, and to act on it like they did with the coronavirus.”
“You just put all other priorities aside, you don’t say ‘how much is this going to cost,’ or ‘what about this,’ or ‘what about that,’ because it’s a matter of life and death,” she said.
Calls to implement climate change measures have seen multiple Australian jurisdictions set emission reduction targets, including Sydney who proposed a net-zero emissions goal by 2035 on Monday, the day before the new Federal Budget—making it one of the most ambitious emissions reduction targets in Australia.
Sydney became the first local government to become carbon neutral in 2007, with its operations powered completely by renewable electricity.
Mayor of the city Clover Moore delivered the Environmental Strategy 2021-25, pushing forward Sydney’s initial net-zero goal by 5 years from 2040.
“This year we’ll meet our 2008 goal to reduce emissions by 70 per cent by 2030—nine years earlier than initially targeted,” Moore said. “We’re leading by example to tackle the climate crisis and reaching net-zero as soon as possible is the next step.”
To meet the target, the council plans to encourage businesses and residents to use renewable energy sources, as well as encouraging a transition from petrol cars to walking, cycling, and electric vehicles.
Other local governments implementing emission reduction targets include the Victorian Government which last week legislated a net-zero target by 2050, with plans to halve emissions by 2030.
In March, the New South Wales government also pledged $750 million for its own net-zero plan, part of an $11.6 billion investment over the next 10 years.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously stated that Australia will be aiming for net-zero by 2050, but without setting a strict target.
Morrison also noted that emissions reduction would be achieved through technological investments, and not through punishing taxes.
AAP contributed to this report.