Rising Tide North America Statement on Mountain Valley Pipeline SLAPP Suit

Rising Tide North America issued the following statement on the frivolous litigation being brought by Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) against land defenders and organizations:

“This lawsuit is MVP’s latest attempt to intimidate public participation and subvert free speech.

Across the country, fossil fuel companies like MVP are increasingly turning to SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) suits to hang on to their failed business practices that exploit the land, make people sick and destroy our climate.

Rising Tide North America is a grassroots organization made up of ordinary people fighting for a better and healthier world. We resist all attempts to intimidate land and climate defenders and subvert free speech — especially those made by multinational giant corporations profiting off of the destruction of local communities.”

Port of Newcastle blockade climate protesters face court over November 2023 Rising Tide action

cross-posted from ABC

A NSW magistrate has told protesters involved in a demonstration that ground coal exports to a halt in Newcastle that it was clear they acted out of “genuine desire” to bring about change.

The protest, organised by the group Rising Tide in November, saw hundreds of people block Newcastle Harbour for 30 hours over two days in the name of climate change.

The authorised action was to finish at 4pm on November 26, but many protesters defied police orders and remained on the water.

More than 100 people were arrested and charged with operating a vessel to interfere with others’ use of the water.

Two protesters faced the courts in November where they were fined around $600 each.

The remaining 99 were listed in Newcastle Local Court today and included students as young as 20 and age pensioners in their 80s.

Aerial view of a group of kayakers

Hundreds of protesters blocked the Port of Newcastle using canoes and kayaks in November.(AAP: Rising Tide)

Magistrate Stephen Olischlager said many of the protesters had done outstanding work in their communities and had a genuine concern for the environment.

“[This was] not selfishly motivated,” he said.

“[They are] valuable contributors to society, persons who are intelligent … and making a real contribution to society.”

Police prosecutor Harry Hall had argued the protesters should be convicted as the unauthorised part of the protest was unsafe and took away police resources from other areas.

“Entering a busy shipping lane places lives at risk,” he said.

Busiest coal port in the world

The Port of Newcastle exports more than 150 million tonnes of coal each year, making it the world’s busiest coal port.

Magistrate Olischlager said, while it was a fundamental human right to protest, people did have to consider the broader impact on the community.

“There was a large vessel due to leave the port and there was some delay caused,” he said.

Despite this, those who pleaded guilty this morning left court without a conviction or fine, as Magistrate Olischlager said they had shown good character.

“Offences of this nature are [often] committed by persons who are of good character,” he said.

“It is a strength of those characters, which on this occasion [means] these are matters that can be dealt with by not proceeding to conviction.”

An older man outside of court.

Reverend Alan Stuart, 97, was the oldest person to take part in the protest.(Supplied: Rising Tide)

Journalist, age pensioners and students charged

Among those facing court today was a writer for Sydney Criminal Lawyers, Paul Gregoire.

He had attended the protest as a journalist but got “caught up” in the action.

He pleaded guilty in court today and was granted a conditional release order without conviction.

“I’m sorry to have wasted the court’s time but I thought it was a necessary, important cause,” he said.

“The climate crisis is escalating, so I thought it was time to put my money where my mouth was and show solidarity with the activists.”

A man standing outside of court.

Paul Gregoire was not handed a conviction at Newcastle local court.(ABC Newcastle: Keira Proust)

Newcastle local Bryce Ham, 20, was among those who did not receive a fine or conviction.

“It’s a great sign that peaceful protest in Australia is still strongly respected by the courts,” he said outside of court.

“This is the biggest civil disobedience action for climate justice in Australia’s history.”

Some of the 99 matters are expected to be moved to another day given the sheer number of people who attended court today.

PODCAST: The United Nations Climate Conference Agrees to Transition Away From Fossil Fuels. What Now? w/ Tina Gerhardt

cross-posted from the Green and Red Podcast

The most recent United Nations Climate Conference resulted in an agreement between nearly 200 nations about the next steps in dealing with the climate crisis. It included for the first time ever language around transitioning away from fossil fuels. Heralded in some quarters as “the end of the era of fossil fuels,” critics say the deal is filled with loopholes that will undermine efforts to combat the climate crisis. The final text fails to explicitly call for a phaseout of fossil fuels, language sought by over 100 countries.

Listen in: https://bit.ly/48n0KGp

In our latest episode, Scott talks with journalist and author Tina Gerhardt (@TinaGerhardtEJ) about COP28, the negotiations, the agreement, industry influences, peoples’ movements influences and what it all means.

Bio// Tina Gerhardt is an environmental journalist who covers the UN climate change negotiations, climate change and sea level rise, each with a focus on environmental justice. Her writing has been published in Grist, The Guardian, The Nation, Orion and Sierra Magazine. She is author of Sea Change: An Atlas of Islands in a Rising Ocean (University of California Press, 2023).

More than 100 climate activists arrested after two-day blockade of Australia’s largest coal port

cross-posted from WION News

More than 100 climate activists, including five children and a 97-year-old reverend, have been arrested, said the police, after a two-day blockade of one of the world’s largest coal ports in Australia, on Monday (Nov 27).

The protest group Rising Tide, which organised the blockade claims that the 30-hour blockade of the shipping lane in Port of Newcastle over the weekend prevented over half a million tonnes of coal from leaving the country.

What did the climate protesters do?

Hundreds of activists took to the Newcastle port’s shipping lane on Australia’s east coast swimming or using kayaks in protest of the government’s climate inaction and imploring them to end the country’s long reliance on fossil fuel exports.

Canberra is the world’s second-biggest coal exporter and heavily relies on fossil fuels for its own electricity needs. The government is also reportedly in the midst of planning a string of new coal mines, oil fields and gas projects.

The port in Australia’s east is around 170 kilometres away from Sydney and is said to be the country’s most important terminal for coal shipments.

Around 3,000 people from across the country took part in the 30-hour blockade, reported BBC, the permission for which was granted by the authorities. However, police boats reportedly started closing in after the deadline had crossed and the crowds of activists refused to leave the water.

 ‘Oldest Australian ever arrested and charged’

The New South Wales Police said five juveniles had also been arrested but did not give their ages. As per BBC, the five children were subsequently released.

The NSW police, in a statement, said that they have charged 104 people, on Monday. Among those arrested and charged was 97-year-old Uniting Church reverend Alan Stuart who as per Rising Tide’s post on X, is the “OLDEST PERSON EVER ARRESTED AND CHARGED IN AUSTRALIA”.

“I am doing this for my grandchildren and future generations because I don’t want to leave them a world full of increasingly severe and frequent climate disasters,” said Stuart, in a statement prior to his arrest.

He added, “I am so sorry that they will have to suffer the consequences of our inaction. So, I think it is my duty to do what I can and to stand up for what I know is right.”

The group also called the protest the “biggest act of civil disobedience for climate in Australia’s history”.

“I’m doing this as a student because the decision makers in this country have consistently ignored young people’s voices,” said 17-year-old Anjali Beams who travelled from Adelaide and also remained past the 30-hour deadline.

“The Newcastle coal port is the largest coal port in the world, and I will not be complicit in letting my future get sold away by the fossil fuel industry for their profit,” she added.

(With inputs from agencies)