Update on the Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign

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 environment.officers@src.usyd.edu.au 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 nswact@asen.org.au to learn more about the trip, for which you may be eligible to receive a subsidy from the SRC to attend.

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