Cross Posted from WA Today
By Peter Hannam
Protesters demanding an end to the coal industry and greater support for renewable energy have unfurled a giant banner at Melbourne’s Flinders Street railway station.
Climbers scaled the landmark building’s exterior to unveil the sign – “Get off the coal train and get on the renewables track” – this morning. They expect to be charged with trespass when the protest ends.
While Victoria’s Premier Denis Napthine has emerged as a supporter of wind farms, including opening one of the world’s largest in his own electorate last month, he is yet to reverse tough rules implemented by his predecessor Ted Baillieu.
The state also has plans to begin exports of brown coal, a fuel that produces high greenhouse gas emissions.
“You can drill a coal seam gas well within 100 metres of a home but residents can veto a wind farm within two kilometres of their home,” Chloe Aldenhoven, a Quit Coal spokeswoman, said. “That’s despite the well-documented health effects and the effects on land … coal seam gas can be absolutely disastrous.”
Environmental groups have stepped up their anti-coal campaigns in recent weeks, including targeting the big banks over their support for major energy projects in the Great Barrier Reef region.
Recent extreme weather in Australia, including record heat and ongoing weak cool-season rainfall over southern Australia, only increased the urgency to switch energy sources, said Ms Aldenhoven.
“We can’t have a carbon tax on the one hand and expect a coal-mining and coal-seam gas industry on the other if we are really serious about climate change,” she said.
New South Wales is yet to decide whether it will follow Victoria’s lead and implement restrictions on wind farms to within two kilometres of residences.