Community forum discusses forces undermining action on climate change

Dr Mark Diesendorf at the community forum hosted by EcoNetwork.

A PACKED audience filled the Tomaree Community Centre on April 7 to hear Dr Mark Diesendorf discuss Australia’s transition to renewable energy and the forces undermining action on climate change.

Dr Diesendorf, an Honorary Associate Professor in Environment and Society at the University of NSW, was guest speaker at the community forum conducted by EcoNetwork-Port Stephens and the Renew Hunter Region Branch.

Meryl SwansonAdvertise with News of The Area today.
It’s worth it for your business.
Message us.
Phone us – (02) 4981 8882.
Email us –

The experienced environmental campaigner told attendees that climate change, nuclear war, poverty and social inequality were existential threats facing civilisation.

Dr Diesendorf called on communities to form alliances to combat these challenges.

“These alliances are needed to curb the driving forces causing climate change, pollution, resource depletion, deforestation, war, poverty, social injustice and ill health,” he said.

Dr Diesendorf shared concerns that groups driven by vested interests had participated in “capture” of the nation-state: of government, opposition, public service, media, and, in some cases, police and military.

He said ‘captors’ include the multinational fossil fuel, forestry, armaments, finance, property, pharmaceutical and gambling industries, as well as some religious organisations and professions.

“State capture can lead to environmental destruction, social inequality, autocracy, illness and war,” he said.

“Dismantling state capture aids democracy and democratic decision making.”

He said the methods of ‘state capture’ that need dismantling include political donations and election expenditure, revolving door jobs, concentrated media ownership, social media campaigns, think tanks like the Institute of Public Affairs and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, and unpublicised meetings between politicians and lobbyists.

“While local community action has benefits like community education and empowerment through local projects including renewable energy and cooperatives, local and individual action alone cannot change the system,” he said.

“Government decides on infrastructure, urban and land-use planning, pollution control, standards, public facilities, taxes and rules for banks.”

Dr Diesendorf said alliances can adopt tactics like non-violent obstruction, strikes, boycotts, demonstrations, public education, media and social media, lobbying and legal actions.

He mentioned that in NSW penalties of $22,000 or two years jail existed for illegal protests that disrupt economic activity.

In South Australia you can be fined $50,000 or receive three-months jail time for ‘obstructing a public space’.

Dr Diesendorf argues these extreme penalties undermine democracy.

“The dominant economic system is based on the exploitation of the planet and its people and is also undemocratic.

“It is a tool of state capture by vested interests.

“It is driven by the ideology that endless growth in consumption of energy, materials and land, and population, on a finite planet, is possible and desirable.

“However,” he said, “beyond a certain level, additional consumption doesn’t improve happiness or well-being.

“Growth in consumption delays the substitution of clean technologies for dirty technologies.”

Dr Diesendorf advocated transitioning to a steady state economy with ecological sustainability and social justice as the priorities.

The Port Stephens community has a long and strong history of advocating for the environment with continued efforts in place to preserve Tomaree Headland for the use of the community and a bid to have the Mambo Wanda Wetlands RAMSAR listed.

However the most divisive issue facing the community and its pristine environment at present is the proposed Hunter offshore wind zone.


Forum attendees at the Tomaree Community Centre.

Leave a Reply