Last month climate activists demonstrated against the NSW government’s coal expansion outside state government offices in Sydney. The action was a response to “concept approval” for two new coal-fired power stations in NSW. This is approval for a 15 per cent increase in emissions, or the equivalent of doubling cars in NSW.
Plans are underway for another ten coal-fired power stations across the country. Meanwhile, the NSW government is running a multimillion-dollar campaign to target household emissions. Television and billboard advertisements advise consumers to decrease their “black balloons”, each representing 50g of carbon pollution, and to do their bit for the climate through actions such as switching from air-conditioning to ceiling-fans.
According to John Kaye, speaker for The Greens at the demonstration, the proposed expansion, including power stations at Bayswater, Mount Piper and Munmorah, will emit the equivalent of 600 billion “black balloons” every year. The issue is not household usage of energy—but the climate policies of the NSW government. Activists brought bunches of black balloons to the protest to signify the government’s hypocrisy and heard from speakers who condemned the expansion.
Activist Ralph Luetticke from the Sydney Uni Climate Action Collective told the crowd, “This is not the last time we’ll demonstrate outside these offices. We won’t stop until these power stations are stopped.” The demonstration was a small step forward in the campaign to stop the power stations. So far, climate activists have stuck to lobbying their MPs on the issue.
But the expansion is going ahead because of lack of public awareness—in fact, the concept approval for the power stations was issued on the same day Rudd announced his health policy, in an obvious attempt to avoid the public’s attention. The NSW government, like the federal government, is not prepared to sacrifice their competitive economic advantage. While coal remains profitable, they will continue to pursue it. It is our job to stop them. More mobilisations will be needed to stop the expansion from going ahead.

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