“Join me in calling for a safe future,” said former ambassador Gregory Andrews as he asked the public to sign his petition before starting his hunger strike for climate action out the front of Parliament House yesterday (2 November).
Mr Andrews will sit outside the building every day until Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the Australian Government commit to his demands.
“Many thousands of Australians share my concerns about climate collapse but the government is, at best, treating climate change as a future emergency. This is why I’ve made the resolute decision to undertake a #ClimateHungerStrike. I will abstain from consuming anything except water.
“People close to me know of my determination and willingness to make personal sacrifices in the name of justice. I am unwavering in my commitment. I will continue this hunger strike until the government takes the action that Australians and all of humanity deserve.”
The D’harawal man was prompted to action by Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek’s decision to allow a coal mine to open in central Queensland earlier this year.
His environmental concerns have been evident throughout his work for years, especially in his tenure as Australia’s first threatened species commissioner when he led the development of this country’s first threatened species strategy. Mr Andrews also worked as an ambassador to West Africa and represented Australia at the United Nations climate change negotiations from 2010 to 2013 as the deputy chief negotiator.
Now working as a consultant and Adjunct Associate Professor with the University of Canberra’s Institute for Applied Ecology, the former ambassador has decided to put his life on hold with the hope that the government will accept his five demands.
In Mr Andrew’s letter to the Prime Minister, he calls on the country’s leader to “announce a climate emergency; stop subsidising fossil fuels and redirect these resources to climate action and adaptation; commit to an urgent phase out of Australia’s massive coal and gas exports; end native forests logging; update Australia’s key environment protection law, the EPBC Act, to include climate impacts; and immediately release key details of the Climate Risk Assessment which outlines the national security risks we face”.
In September, he sent a letter to the Prime Minister regarding his beliefs on the “immediate necessity of climate action”, but he says he received “a standard reply with cut-and-pasted talking points”.
Mr Andrews’ family will be supporting him throughout the strike, which he expects to go on indefinitely until the Prime Minister acknowledges and accepts his petition for movement on his requests.
Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen and Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek were also contacted by letter, yet the only response was from a spokesperson of the Department of Climate Change and the Environment. Within the response was a summary of the government’s plans to decarbonise the economy, protect forests and deliver on their 2050 net zero emission targets.