Many of us are glad to see the end of 2020 and sick of hearing about it. But a new year, as well as bringing new possibilities, offers us a chance to reflect on what we’ve done. To change the world requires being future focused, but we also need to learn from our past.
2020 of course started in Australia with horrific bushfires – an unwanted vindication of what climate scientists have told us for years would happen if we didn’t do something to stop our carbon emissions. So up on the frontlines we kept up the pressure. As fires raged, Gali and Eleanor blocked all coal going to Adani’s Abbot Point terminal in solidarity with bushfire victims and survivors.
There were plenty of actions disrupting work on the Carmichael mine too. Work was stopped on the assembly of Adani’s driverless trucks by three people locking on in Mackay; while 75 year old Barb locked herself to the front gate of Adani’s HQ in Townsville. On Valentines Day, Craig stopped work on Adani’s rail corridor by locking himself to a cattle grid; a week later Janie did the same while dressed as a mermaid.
In March, as the state and country entered COVID-19 lockdowns, we made the difficult decision to stop accepting new people at Camp Binbee. Like so many others around the world, we had to compare immediate safety imperatives to the long-term value of our work here, and decided that was the necessary course.
The Australian government and the mining lobby sadly didn’t take quite the same level of caution. Adani was deemed an “essential service” and work continued, despite the fact that nothing is currently actually produced there, and their work is likely to eventually lead to worse global health effects. It was very difficult here on the frontlines to watch Adani continue work while we were unable to stop it. We kept a presence online though, staying active on social media and running a series of workshops about blockading for the climate.
A long period of Adani working without the threat of activists halting them was brought to an emphatic end in August, when Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners blocked the road leading to Adani’s workers camp for four days. In the end it took more than 50 police to dramatically move everyone on and resume business as usual, but it brought a reminder to the world that this destructive project is going on without the proper consent of traditional owners.
With border restrictions and gathering limits still operating, FLAC nonetheless decided it was time to get back to doing what we do best – blocking coal. So in September, Kyle stopped exports from Abbot Point by locking himself to the coal loader; while Ben stopped work again on Adani’s rail corridor.
That rail line and port have been a cause for concern for Adani, with years of bad press regarding the company’s environmental standards. Their attempts to get government funding to build their rail line have all failed, and in fact they have been unable to find a rail company willing to haul their coal. Abbot Point has been in the news for environmental breaches and its attempt to dump dredge spoil on the Caley Valley Wetlands. Most recently, they were ordered to pay $107 million dollars for ripping off their own customers. Adani’s response has been attempted rebranding – they formed their own innocuously titled “Bowen Rail Company”, and then changed the name of Abbot Point to “North Queensland Export Terminal”. This attempted rebranding (the opposite of all traditional business advice) is a vindication of the Stop Adani movement in its many forms, which has ensured that every time this company is mentioned it is the environmental impacts of the Carmichael mine that are talked about.
This was followed by the ultimate rebrand in November, when Adani changed the name of its mining division to “Bravus”. They claimed it meant “brave”, though Latin experts said it was more like “crooked” or “mercenary”. We took a trip to Adani HQ to say that, no matter how much you polish it, a turd is still a turd.
There were more direct actions before the end of the year. Barney stopped work for a day on Adani’s concrete batching plant; Potto and Mac manifested democracy by shutting down the excavator; Rupert and Jeanette stopped exports from the newly named North Qld Export Terminal; and Pia, Alex and Leon halted work by locking on to the machines at Adani’s quarry.
With 2020 coming to an end, many of us are hoping for a better year ahead. Here at FLAC we know a better future is possible, but it doesn’t come just from the turning of the calendar. To stop disastrous climate change we need hard work, courage and creativity. Politicians and climate scientists play a role, but so do everyday people like all those we’ve mentioned taking action.
So in 2021, if possible (travel restrictions of course keep changing), join us on the frontlines to take direct action against Adani and protect our planet. If you can’t make it in person, you can still help by spreading the word or by donating money. We have seen some dark times, but together we can stop the worst effects of climate change and create a more sustainable and just future.
See you on the frontlines!
– Andy and the team at Camp Binbee.