Posts for the environment dept
The Environment Collective has had a great year so far. Through the NSW branch of the Australian Student Environment Network (ASEN), we helped to organise the annual Students of Sustainability conference in Newcastle. This is the longest-running student environment event in the country and was a great success again this year, with over 600 people attending from all parts of Australia. Sydney Uni was well represented with 30 students attending from our campus. The conference featured a wide range of speakers from environmental and social justice campaigns across the country. One highlight was a panel about ‘just transitions’ – a transition away from coal for the Hunter valley region which has historically been economically dependant on coal mining. The panel featured a speaker from the regional Trades Labour Council, giving the perspective of 70,000 mining and energy workers in the area who are often ignored by mainstream environmentalist discourse about climate change. The panel argued that mining and energy workers must be actively involved in a renewable energy transition in order for it to be democratic and equitable, and indeed that the labour movement will play a key strategic role in such a transition happening at all. Other presenters included representatives from Aboriginal groups throughout the country engaged in fighting the environmental destruction of their country, and Greens senator Lee Rhiannon discussing the need for massively expanded affordable housing initiatives in Australian cities.
The Enviro Collective has a number of upcoming events. On Thursday 31st August from 5.30pm we are hosting a screening of Guarding the Galilee, a film released earlier this year which documents the struggle against the Adani coal mine in central Queensland. This will be a must for all students interested in climate change and the climate movement. On-campus location TBC – text Andy on 0467 809 319 for details.
On Sunday 3rd we are holding a bushwalk, visiting regenerated bushland and the abandoned naval installations around Malabar. Contact Andy again if you’re interested in coming along.
Along with other campus groups, we are planning a road trip in the mid-semester break to visit a number of communities affected by coal and coal seam gas mining in the Hunter and the north-west of NSW.
If you’d like to get involved with the collective, our weekly meetings are at 1pm on the law lawns. You can also join our Facebook group, “Usyd Enviro Collective 2017” to stay tuned about upcoming events and opportunities to get involved, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your 2017 Environment Officers,
Andy Mason, Maushmi Powar, Seth Dias and Jodie Pall.
Lily Matchett and Maushmi Powar
The Enviro Collective is back at it after another great Students of Sustainability conference! Students of Sustainability (SoS) was in Brisbane this year, on Jagera and Turrbal country. We had some awesome plenary’s with speakers discussing first nation women’s involvement in the environmental movement and the history of resistance in Brisbane. Awesome workshops were also run covering topics from permaculture to Marxist ecology.
Coming into Semester 2, the Enviro Collective plans on working on our connections with other grassroots groups and Fossil Free USYD! We’ll be having regular stalls on Wednesdays on Eastern Avenue so come say hi!
Members of the Enviro Collective have been attending Grandmas Against Removal (GMAR) rallies in solidarity in response to the terrible treatment of indigenous and Aboriginal children in juvenile detention centres. A workshop on ‘Whiteness and Aboriginal Solidarity’ will be held at 7.30pm on 11 August @ the Waterloo Tent Embassy. People from the Collective will be attending and I strongly encourage you to attend as well. Here’s the Facebook link –https://www.facebook.com/events/1738223453101456/.
Fossil Free USYD is getting a kick-start this semester! We’ll be banner painting this week so look out for the event on the Facebook group – USYD Enviro Collective 2016. We’re looking for more than just a 20% commitment to the divestment of the University’s money from coal, oil and gas – so look out for some fun actions!!
Hope to see you all soon!
Maushmi and Lily
Lily Matchett and Maushmi Power
The USYD Enviro Collective has been in full swing these past few weeks with supporting UNSW’s incredible occupation of the Chancellory (Go Fossil Free UNSW!), going to BreakFree with 350.org, preparing for Students of Sustainability and planning for upcoming Forums!
Firstly, UNSW absolutely nailed their civil disobedience in raising awareness for the University’s investment into fossil fuels!! We are seriously proud of our fellow comrades 😀 We hope we can do you justice in our own Fossil Free campaign in the upcoming weeks!
BreakFree organised by 350.org was incredible! On Sunday 8 May a bunch of people from the Collective participated in blocking one of the world’s largest coal ports in Newcastle! Blocking any coal from coming in or going out for an entire day was thoroughly empowering and really brought together people from all over the community. Participating in this mass mobilisation really highlighted that communities all over Australia are fighting for a fairer and safer environment for our future.
Students of Sustainability (SoS) is fast approaching and the Collective is working hard on promoting the conference to as many keen enviro beans as we possibly can! Publicity has been our key issue at the moment and we’ll soon be organising logistics for getting people there. For any people interested, check out this event page! – facebook.com/events/540947269408480/.
Upcoming Forums include the ASEN Just Transitions Forums on 20 May @ Carslaw Lecture Room 350 which Lily has been working endlessly on (Thanks Lil!).
Another forum is the Nuclear Power Forum held jointly by the USYD Enviro Collective and the USU on 25 May @ the Common Room, Holme Building. Both have amazing speakers from a diverse set of perspectives and I strongly encourage people to attend! For those interested, details are in the FB group – USYD Enviro Collective 2016.
Yeaaaaah kids! What a summer wahooooooooooo!
Members of the Enviro Collective were engaged in a whole bunch of stuff off campus. We participated in the People’s Parliament, getting dragged out of Federal Parliament with about 200 others demanding real action on climate change. We did some citizen science and blockading with the Goongerah Environment Centre down in Victoria’s unique East Gippsland, culminating in one collective member spending 12 hours up a tree sit before Police Search and Rescue brought them down. Simultaneously, a legal challenge brought against VicForests was settled out of court with Environment East Gippsland over the controversial logging coupe the collective member was blockading.
Collective members have been engaged with the Gomeroi and Gamilaraay communities, and local farmers, from the Liverpool Plains in northern NSW. We have been helping with the Pilliga Push campaign, trying to prevent the development of Santos’ Leewood Wastewater Treatment Facility. This facility is a crucial piece of infrastructure for Santos, who plan on developing 850 coal seam gas (CSG) wells in the Pilliga forest against the wishes of the local community and posing a serious threat to the Great Artesian Basin. We have participated in several ‘walk ons’ to stop work at the Leewood Facility, as well as other ‘direct actions’ including capturing a truck for over 27 hours!
Another ongoing campaign in the Liverpool Plains region is the Leard Blockade, a campaign against the expansion of Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek open cut coal mine. Whitehaven is currently clearing forest which contains Box Gum Woodland a critically endangered ecological community of which there is less than 0.1% left globally. There are 34 threatened species reliant upon this habitat. Moreover, Lawler’s Well, the last of eleven Sacred Gomeroi Sites is scheduled to be cleared.
In the mid-semester break we will be going on a road trip up to the Pilliga and/or Leard forests. If you’re interested in coming along, or uncertain, fill out this form: http://tinyurl.com/asen-midsem-trip
The Enviro Collective meets on Tuesdays at 12pm on Manning Sunken Lawns (left of the main entrance to Manning House) to discuss environmental justice and organise upcoming events and projects. We welcome people of all backgrounds, knowledges, and abilities.
Lily Matchett and Maushmi Powar
Over the break a bunch of enviro members went down with the Australian Student Environment Network to the forests of East Gippsland in Victoria to visit blockades that are opposing logging, learn new skills and help save the forest through citizen science. They learnt new skills, surveyed for endangered species and searched for old growth trees. The collective also ran our first climbing workshop and explored our artistic side by submitting an artwork to the Verge festival to highlight the need for action at the upcoming climate talks in Paris this December.
The Paris talks represent the worlds last chance to gaet a binding international agreement to reduce emissions. Australia has an atrocious track record of attempting to derail such negotiations in the past, which is why we need to place enormous pressure upon the Australian government to be a constructive participant and up the woeful targets it has currently on the table. Recent modelling shows that the targets submitted by Australia and other nations still puts the world on track for 3.5ºC of warming by the end of the century. As a rich nation with high per capita emissions, Australia needs to do its fair share of the global effort by committing to steep emissions cuts and by providing funds to rectify global inequities so that poorer nations can meet their targets without entrenching poverty.
Sydney University can play a role in spurring this change. Thats why we are calling upon it to give fossil fuels the flick and divest before Paris. The Environment Collective will be supporting the People’s Climate March here in Sydney on the 29th of November at 1pm. Bring your friends, bring your family, bring everyone out onto the streets to tell the government and the world that it is time to act. To inspire you before the march, we will be screening Naomi Klein’s new documentary ‘This Changes Everything’, on the incompatibility of neoliberal capitalism and climate action. Stay tuned for details of this post exams event and more by by liking the Sydney Uni Enviro Collective page on Facebook.
The Environment Collective is a fun loving group, with an abounding compassion for the planet, and all of the life that resides here. We hope you, dear like-minded reader, will join our ranks and start making a difference! Our new working groups mean you can engage in a broad range of activities that interest you. The Collective has had a vibrant first half of the semester, building a more active and diverse environmental movement on campus.
In Week 4, the Collective had a fabulous stall at Pride Week. We added to our collection of signatures for the Fossil Free USYD and Monster Climate Petitions. Our friends from the Queer Community were incredibly supportive of the cause because environmental problems are queer problems too!
Fossil Free USYD has been out campaigning and letting people know about the upcoming national day of divestment action at mid day, outside the quad on the 22nd of April. Come and plant a wind turbine, enjoy a picnic with us and sign our petition to the university to divest. Last year we achieved a 20 percent reduction in the Uni’s portfolio carbon footprint, and our rallying cry this year is to “DIVEST THE REST!!” If you would like to get involved in organising, come to our meeting at 11am every Wednesday at the Manning Sunken lawns.
The Community Garden are planning some very interesting and exciting gardening workshops.
At a collective meeting, we agreed to support the organisation SOS Blak Australia with a financial donation and explore other ways we might be able to support this movement supporting communities fighting removal from their land. This reflects our commitment to environmental activism that is in solidarity with First Nations peoples’ fight for justice.
During the break, Collective members ventured over to UTS to support UTS Enviro Collective with their Fossil Free UTS campaign.
Collective members who attended the Wollemi Common Enviro Group this past weekend, camping with members of other enviro collectives from around Australia, reportedly had a great time.
We are excited about our new e-newsletter! It will service as a periodic reminder of upcoming events, campaigns, get-togethers, and other fun activities. We will also share readings and articles that we find interesting and pertinent to the causes we are fighting for.
To subscribe to our fascinating and inspiring newsletter, please find us on Facebook: Sydney Uni Enviro Collective. There you will also find more frequent and detailed updates on the Collective. You can also email us if you don’t have Facebook: email@example.com.
The last time we wrote here, we were collecting signatures to bring on a referendum of the student body on whether USyd should divest from fossil fuels. Since then, so much has happened. The referendum won by a landslide – 80% of voters agree that we, as the university community, should stop investing in climate change. Coming up for the Fossil Free USyd campaign we’ll be continuing to try to get Vice Chancellor Michael Spence to respond to our emails, and reaching out to clubs, societies, and other on campus institutions to creatively collaborate for a cleaner and not underwater future.
We’ve also been having intercampus meet ups with Fossil Free Universities groups from all over NSW and supporting/being supported by campaigns on other campuses – it’s been amazing working with folk from UWS, the University of Newcastle, UNSW, UTS, and Macquarie Uni.
Members of the Enviro Collective travelled up to the #LeardBlockade, which we’ve been supporting since soon after its inception two years ago, for the Shenanigans. Over 150 people took peaceful direct action, with community members, scientists, Kokoda vets, and shut down 4 mines, the world’s largest coal port (Newcastle), and Gunnedah coal processing plant temporarily to protest the effect of coal on community, the climate, agriculture, health, biodiversity and Aboriginal land.
If you’re keen to come check out the protest camp at the Leard State Forest, there is another event planned, Act Up 6: Release the Bats, from October 30-November 4. The Enviro Collective will be heading up again and would love to have you along, so please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re keen to come.
On the Friday just past, we met with folk from Enviro Collectives across NSW and took part in the Pacific Climate Warriors’ Flotilla – an on-water blockade of Newcastle harbour, which closed down the import/export of fossil fuels for the day. Their motto, “We are not drowning, we are fighting!”, spits in the face of the often paternalistic Western view of passive Pacific Islanders, and encapsulates the incredible strength of the Climate Warrior crew who come from 13 different Pacific nations. Although it took a while to learn the ropes of dodging cops on jetskis in our kayaks, the Enviro Collective crew immensely appreciated the opportunity to #StandUpForThePacific in solidarity with the Pacific Climate Warriors, who were so inspiring their words left this Enviro Officer in tears a number of times. This action was really important in terms of standing behind first nations folks in instead of speaking or acting on their behalf, and is the kind of intersectional environmentalist work we would endeavour to continue with and further improve on.
Coming up, we have a screening of Mining the Truth, an amazing film about students travelling through rural areas and listening to communities affected by coal and coal seam gas extraction – from health and agricultural community groups, through to workers in the mines. Free posh pizza and drinks will be provided at the screening on Thursday the 30th October at the Holme Common Room. After we’ll talk about the Mining the Truth Road Trip, coming up from the 22nd of November through to the 1st of December, which will involve learning from mining communities, thinking about the best path for a just transition to renewable energy which includes, rather than isolates, the rural working class, and this year for the first time putting together a collaborative art project based upon what we learn. Email email@example.com to learn more about the trip, for which you may be eligible to receive a subsidy from the SRC to attend.
The SRC Enviro team has been very busy over the break. 23 students from USyd went to the Australian Student Environmental Network’s annual conference Students of Sustainability in Canberra. We learnt about the importance of an intersectional environmentalism that fights for Indigenous sovereignty. We learnt about the theory of Just Transitions, an environmental movement that creates jobs through worker’s cooperatives building renewable technologies (check out the new Earthworker Cooperative in Victoria!), and the history of environmentalism in the worker’s movement from Jack Mundey of the Builders Labourers Federation famous for the Green Bans.
Since then we have been working hard on the Fossil Free Sydney University campaign to encourage the University to divest from (cease investment in) fossil fuels and stop profiting from climate change. We are on track, through collecting the constitutionally required 450 undergrad signatures, to having a student referendum on the following question included in the ballot for the upcoming SRC Elections:
“Should your university stop investing, via its shareholdings, in companies whose primary business is the extraction, processing and transportation of coal, oil and gas (fossil fuels)?”
Although it is yet to be finalised, there is support from the campaign from all sides of politics, and we are confident that the referendum will yield a positive result to demonstrate to management students support divestment. Even Council’s sole Liberal councillor, Matthew Wollaston, seems to be making the right noises.
Coming up, we will be running some exciting events with the USU. #LeardBlockade Information night will be at the Verge Gallery at 6pm on Tuesday the 2nd of September. In addition to live music and photography of the site, there will be talks about the Leard State Forest and the variety of different ways students can save it from open cut coal mines. Divestment Day will be held from 11am – 3pm on Wednesday the 10th of September. There will be stalls from divestment organisations and workshops will be run throughout the day to facilitate people getting involved in the campaign, and educating SRC campaigners from various political groups about divestment so they will be able to answer voter questions about the referendum.
***If you want to sign the petition there is one at reception in the SRC and another copy in the USyd Food Co-op on Level 4 Wentworth Building.***
The enviro collective have been up to much eco-friendly mischief the last couple weeks. We had a very successful info-night discussing the horrors of the Maules Creek mine up in the Leard State Forest in northern NSW. We were lucky to hear from three fantastic speakers – Steven Laird, a man with great spiritual and familial connections to the area, our very own Andy Mason from Sydney Uni and Emma Wosson, a sustainability veteran from The Wilderness Society. The mine will destroy a devastating amount of Indigenous forest that is incredibly bio-diverse (396 species of flora and fauna; 34 are critically endangered), as well as disturb important farmland in the area. Whitehaven, the coal company pushing for the mine’s development, was shown by Andy to have dodgy plans for rehabilitation of the site and terrible offset modelling: planting a forest for threatened animals to move to in the next 20 years which will only be in a state habitable for them in 100 years at the earliest.
The almost 600 day blockade up at the forest against the new mine seems strong and a very worthwhile place to be.
We are very excited for May 1st, the National Day of Divestment Action. Look out for the collective on Eastern Ave as we urge the university community to reach out to their banks and to the university itself to divest from coal and gas projects in Australia. This brings us to FOSSIL FREE UNIVERSITIES! You might have caught Amelie as she strongly addressed the Chancellor’s building at the National Day of Action against cuts to education a few weeks back, talking about ‘fossil free universities’. This is an important issue that we are taking seriously within the collective. As the name suggests, we are urging the university to divest from mining companies and other fossil fuel producers.
Finally, we will be going to Canberra in early July for the Students of Sustainability conference and encouraging students to come along. Keep an eye out for more info on this and check out studentsofsustainability.org
If any of these campaigns tickle your fancy, our meetings are Monday 12pm on the Sunken Lawns next to Manning, and we’d love to see you! Feel free to get involved anyway you’d like from chatting on the Facebook page to realizing your environmentalist vision!