Anti-coal activist’s court case pending decision after climate science is admitted to court room
Anti-coal activist Greg Rolles was heard yesterday in Bowen local court. He plead not guilty to several charges incurred from occupying a tripod which safely blocked the railway going to Adani’s Abbot Point coal terminal. Rolles argued that his actions were legal under section 25 of the criminal code, as global warming presents an ‘extraordinary emergency’.
The court accepted submissions from Prof. Brendan Mackey, a leading author of the IPCC report, and Dr. Nicole Rogers, Senior Lecturer in the School of Law and Justice. These reports outline the immediacy of dangerous climate change, and the necessity to act through all avenues lawful and otherwise to mitigate harm. The hearing of these expert witnesses marked an Australian first, in substantiating the necessity defence.
Prof. Mackey wrote, “There is sufficient scientific evidence to support the proposition that the human-forced climate change problem can be validly described from a scientific perspective as an extraordinary emergency.”
After all evidence was tendered, the court adjourned until 28th May 2pm, pending Magistrate Muirhead’s verdict.
The decision from this case will be immensely influential in shaping societal understanding of how to respond to the climate crisis.
Rolles commented, “Whatever the court’s decision, today we got to talk about global warming in an Australian court room. This is just a first step as many ordinary people around Australia stand up against the destruction of our safe climate. This will keep happening until our political leaders take our safe future seriously.”
Not-guilty pleas for climate change protest has been an increasing phenomenon world-wide. Under the defence of ‘necessity’ numerous activists have faced court in the US and UK. Recent successes include the acquittal of thirteen gas line protesters in Massachusetts and just last week a 52 year old man in London.
The development of this legal strategy falls in step with a global increase in civil disobedience for climate action. This year there has been mass arrests in the UK following an outbreak of peaceful civil disobedience which led to the UK parliament declaring a climate emergency.
For Rolles, non-violent direct action is the necessary response to our current climate emergency, to prompt social change and prevent mass extinction, “For thirty years, the Australian government has failed it’s obligations under international agreement to act on climate change. We cannot sit and wait any more, now is the time for peaceful, civil disobedience to defend our home.”
Footage from yesterdays proceedings-
May 16th 2019: