Adam Bandt will declare protesting “is back” and bigger than ever when he paddles out to sea on a kayak as part of a blockade of a major port on Saturday.
The Greens leader will join hundreds of people expected to take to the water in Newcastle, in the NSW Hunter, as part of community organisation Rising Tide’s action at the biggest coal export hub in the world.
Protesters intend to spend 30 hours on the water, blocking shore access to all coal-carrying ships.
It comes after Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen this week conceded Australia could struggle to meet its emissions reductions targets as he announced a new scheme to drive investment in “dispatchable” energy projects.
COP28 – the international UN climate change conference – will begin next week, and countries are set to be warned that the window for avoiding climate catastrophe is narrowing.
Against that backdrop, Mr Bandt will use his Newcastle speech to tell protesters that “coal and gas corporations should look at the faces here today and know that their days of profiteering at the cost of your lives are numbered”.
He will say he anticipates the major parties to label the blockade as “inappropriate” but will commend the crowd for standing up for their values, stating Labor “cannot ignore us any longer”.
“Politicians must listen to the strong and unwavering voice of those who have had their homes destroyed by floods and bushfires and know that the social licence for destroying our civilisation is gone,” he will say.
“And the millions of people who are hoping for a mass uprising for a safe climate should hear us and take hope – change is coming.
“The tides are rising but so is a movement of angry, motivated people that have run out of patience with politicians.”
Next week, during the last joint sitting week of parliament, the government is set to give its annual climate change statement to the parliament, as foreshadowed by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Thursday.
One of Labor’s first acts when it took government last year was to legislate a 43 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030 and net zero by 2050. The government has yet to announce its 2035 target.
Mr Bandt said Australians were concerned about the summer of “potential disaster” ahead, slamming Labor for purporting to take action on climate while simultaneously backing coal and gas projects.
“Of course, people are going to take to civil disobedience to make politicians listen,” he will say.
“This is peaceful protest against the politicians, and there will be a lot more of it.
“What politicians don’t seem to realise is that protesting and direct action is empowering.
“Labor’s inaction on global heating, social inequality and global peace is building a coalition of people who are fed up and taking power into their own hands.”
Mr Bandt will say it’s not just climate change aggrieving Australians, pointing to the rise in peace protests, including the school strikes for Palestine and climate over the past two weeks.
“In the past few weeks alone we’ve seen the largest demonstrations for peace since the Iraq war. There has been a groundswell of people taking action when Labor won’t listen,” he said.
“We’re organising in the streets, we’re pressing for a ceasefire, we’re demanding Labor takes real action on climate change and global peace. People are running blockades, crashing press conferences, protesting inside and outside of parliaments – all to say no more. Not in our name.”