Hungering for Climate Justice

Hungering for Climate Justice

Extinction Rebellion Australia, 10 Feb 2024

XR Tasmania rebels Dr Scott Bell and Rev Jeff McKinnon finished an eight-day hunger strike this week to express their deep pain and anger at climate injustice. Their message "We are hungering for climate justice - our leaders have failed us".

"The Australian Government has committed to reducing carbon emissions by 43% (compared to 2005 levels) by 2030. Progress towards this important target has been woefully slow.

We are calling on the Australian Government to:

  • Urgently speed up the transition to renewables and encourage other nations to do likewise
  • Urgently reduce fossil fuel exports (scope 3 emissions)
  • Scrap carbon credits, and
  • Add a water trigger and a climate trigger to the proposed Nature Positive Plan (NPP)"

While on hunger strike, Scott and Jeff followed the demanding itinerary of the 'Hungry for Climate Justice' Tasmanian Tour. The tour included two launches in Launceston and Hobart, with two days in Hobart, and one night each in Devonport and Burnie.

Andrew Wilkie MHR with Jeff, Scott and Sybils (Andrew Wilkie in a Sybil costume)
Andrew Wilkie MHR with Jeff, Scott and Sybils (Andrew Wilkie looking splendid in a Sybil costume)

The two rebels and their supporters visited the office of many politicians around the state, including: Senator Nick McKim, Senator Catryna Bilyk, Senator Carol Brown, Jon Duniam, Andrew Wilkie MHR, Hon Julie Collins MHR, Senator Claire Chandler, Brian Mitchell MHR, Senator Richard Colbeck, Senator Anne Urquhart, Gavin Pearce MHR and Senator Jacquie Lambie.

Dr Bell and Pastor McKinnon have both been arrested over a dozen times along with other XR Tasmania rebels for participating in blocking streets, bank blockades and sit-ins at politicians' offices.

At the office of Brian Mitchell MHR during the the 'Hungry for Climate Justice' Tasmanian Tour
At the office of Brian Mitchell MHR during the the 'Hungry for Climate Justice' Tasmanian Tour

In a Hobart Mercury article, 'Going Hungry for a better climate future', Peter Boyer described Scott and Jeff 's deep commitment to climate action.

When you know something big is happening in clear view, something that presents a threat to human and other life on Earth, and people in power don't seem to grasp the urgency of this moment, what should you do?...

...Both men keep abreast of the science. They understand the 2023 data and know what leading scientists are saying about it. They're confronted daily with an imperative to bring to public attention the urgency of the situation and the absolute responsibility of governments and other leaders to respond appropriately.

As individuals, they feel an immense pressure to act. For years, with a handful of other XR members, they have persisted with protests in streets and other places resulting in numerous arrests, court appearances and fines.

Scott and Jeff taking health checks

Scott is a retired GP, and monitored the health of both men throughout the hunger strike. As part of the overall monitoring, he planned a pre and post fasting Body Composition Analysis, at a CBD gymnasium, with use of their InBody 570 impedance machine.

Hunger striker Scott having a haircut
Supporters also provided love, encouragement and haircuts to the two hunger strikers

The hungers strike finished after eight days. Jeff and Scott ate two small bowls of fried rice as they sat in Launceston's Brisbane Street Mall, surrounded by their team.

Both rebels thanked the team of activists who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to support them, and all the community XR supporters state-wide who helped make the hunger strike a successful and positive action.

Scott and Jeff reinforced their demands with the following statement:

The recent COP 28 meetings made some limited progress. An agreement to transition away from fossil fuels was made, though the wording was much weaker than many countries desired. A loss and damage fund to help poorer countries was set up, though few countries committed to anywhere near enough money for it to be effective. Wealthy nations like Australia haven’t acted quickly enough or done nearly enough to avert the climate emergency. Current and future Australian generations, and the poorest nations on Earth, will bear the awful burden of our selfishness.

Our Leaders Have Failed Us

Successive Australian Governments, along with all the nations of the world, have known about this emerging crisis for over 30 years, yet they have done very little. Belatedly, the Albanese Government was elected on a platform of taking stronger action. To date, its delivery of that climate action has been underwhelming. Citizens and corporations need their government to provide the political and economic environment to encourage the uptake of renewable energy. Fortunately, some states and corporations are strongly moving ahead of our government; much more needs to be done.

Cutting Fossil Fuel Emissions

The Australian Government has committed to reducing carbon emissions by 43% (compared to 2005 levels) by 2030. Progress towards this important target has been woefully slow. Australia must urgently speed up this transition to renewables and must encourage other nations to do likewise. Reducing emissions must ultimately include our fossil fuel exports (scope 3 emissions) and not just our domestic consumption. Carbon credits must be scrapped; they only serve to continue carbon emissions for longer. At the very least, the carbon credit regime must be tightened up considerably.

Protecting the Environment from Climate Crisis

The Albanese Government has not yet released its promised Nature Positive Plan (NPP). Leaving the old EPBC in place, the Minister has approved numerous fossil fuel projects since coming to office. We demand that, in addition to a water trigger, a climate trigger must also be included in NPP to protect our natural environment.

Jeff and Scott at the end of the hunger strike
Jeff and Scott at the end of the eight-day hunger strike

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