Climate protesters 'bury' Howard

January 11, 2006

PROTESTERS buried a large replica of Prime Minister John Howard's head in coal today to symbolise what they claim is his commitment to industry profits over climate change solutions.

More than 100 chanting, placard waving environmentalists gathered opposite the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney where senior officials from six countries including Australia and the US are holding a two-day climate conference.

Protesters said the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate meeting (AP6) which also includes Japan, China, South Korea and India was nothing more than a "smoke screen."

Greens Senator Christine Milne today labelled the meeting as the "coalition of the unwilling".

Australia should sign the Kyoto Protocol immediately or start using renewable solar and wind energy which is available now, she said.

"All he (John Howard) wants to do is business as usual," Senator Milne told the rally. "We are witnessing the death of alpine eco systems (in Australia) as we speak.

"We do not want the planet mortgaged for the sake of fuel companies now."

Nature Conservation Council spokeswoman Cate Faehrmann said the meeting was a sham.

"We believe it's nothing more than a coal pact, once again it is all talk and not action at this meeting," she said.

Mother of two, Sue Lewis, who took her two young boys, aged seven and five, to the protest, said something needed to be done to ensure Australia's youth could enjoy the environment.

She also said she was concerned about the property she owns at Mudgee in the NSW Central West near Australia's largest coal mines, which were planning to expand.

"We are concerned about the kids' future and they need to know what is going on," Ms Lewis told AAP. "The implication is that they will not be able to enjoy the Australia that I did when I was growing up."

Ms Lewis was also an advocate of using renewable energy and said burying CO2, which was one of the alternatives touted by the Federal Government, was "implausible."

Despite their strong sentiments, the protests today remained peaceful under the watchful eye of police who maintained a heavy presence in and around the conference venue.

Melbourne Age