Alexa Stuart, my 19-year-old daughter, was arrested today along with Ivy Lane (17), Oliver Rowe (19), Frederick Beiboer (16) and Matilda Ramsey (17) when they refused to leave the Newcastle office of Whitehaven Coal after delivering a cease and desist letter.
In 2015, world leaders agreed to try to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees to limit the disastrous consequences of climate change. In releasing the Emissions Gap Report 2022: The Closing Window – Climate crisis calls for rapid transformation of societies in the lead up to COP27 (which starts today), the UN General Secretary warned that:
Under current policies, the world is headed for 2.8 degrees of global heating by the end of the century. In other words, we are headed for a global catastrophe.
Decades of denial, inaction, and delay mean that the older generations (like mine) are leaving coming generations (like Alexa) a huge environmental, economic and social calamity. We have so badly failed our children.
Having been involved in climate action since she was 15, and seeing their calls ignored, Alexa feels she has no choice but to increase the pressure and take stronger action in a desperate attempt to motivate politicians, business, and other leaders to address climate change as an emergency.
While we wish this type of action was not needed, Alexa has our full support and we are very proud of her commitment and dedication.
We’ve seen the many hours she has devoted to climate action. We’ve seen how she has made personal changes in her lifestyle to reduce her environmental impact including riding her bike and catching buses rather than using a car, reducing her energy use at home and becoming vegetarian. We’ve seen how she really thinks about the consequences of her actions.
Alexa’s decision to risk arrest was not taken lightly but she realises that we need immediate and extensive action, and we support her 100%.
Following are their cease and desist letter and their media release.
Cease and Desist letter delivered to Whitehaven Coal
NEWCASTLE: Five teenagers arrested whilst issuing a “cease and desist” order to Whitehaven Coal, demanding it cancel all new coal projects immediately
Five teenagers, aged 16 to 19, have been arrested for trespass in the office of Whitehaven Coal in Newcastle today after issuing a “cease and desist” order over Whitehaven’s plans to double coal production. The group also put through calls and text messages to the phones of company executives and board members, including CEO, Paul Flynn, and Board Chair, Mark Vaile, before being dragged out of the office by police.
The teenagers were accompanied by 20 supporters, backing the youths’ order that Whitehaven Coal drop its three expansion projects – Vickery, Winchester South and Narrabri Stage 3 – and calling on the Albanese government to block all new coal projects.
Nineteen year old Alexa Stuart, 2020 Newcastle Young Citizen of the Year, was one of the five teenagers arrested today:
“I’m terrified about the impact climate change will have on my future. We’re already seeing rolling climate disasters like fires and floods, and this will only get worse unless we take urgent action now.
“And yet, even when all experts say we need to urgently decarbonise, Whitehaven is trying to double its coal production. This is insane! How is our government letting this happen?
“We are here to demand that the Albanese government step in and cancel all new coal expansions, like the three coal projects that Whitehaven is planning.
“I was scared about getting arrested, but I am terrified of getting older and watching our climate collapse, wishing that I had done more to stop it. When the law allows coal companies to destroy my future, then the only choice I have left is to break the law.”
Seventeen year old Ivy Lane, a year 12 student from Pokolbin, was also arrested today:
“I’m only 17, but I’m losing sleep at night because I’m crippled by climate anxiety, and I know many of my friends are too.
“I have already personally felt the catastrophic consequences of climate change with many of my childhood friends losing their homes in Lismore and my Pop watching in fear as the water rose. The burning of fossil fuels is the reason why this happened and why so many of my friends are still living in tents. We need to stop mining and burning coal immediately before these disasters get any worse.”
Alexa’s parents, Graeme and Cathy Stuart, also attended the protest today. Graeme stated, “We came today because we’re really inspired by the way Alexa and many other young people are sounding the alarm about the climate emergency.
“Alexa’s decision to risk arrest was not taken lightly but she realises that we need immediate and extensive action, and we support her one hundred percent.”
Rising Tide is a grassroots climate group that was active between 2005 and 2012 and is now relaunching to build a mass movement to demand the end of Newcastle coal exports by 2030. Rising Tide is hosting its next protest this Friday, 11th at 5:30pm, outside MP Sharon Claydon’s office and finishing at Whitehaven Coal.
If you liked this post please follow my blog, and you might like to look at:
- Dear Mister Prime Minister: Are you listening? (A speech given by Alexa at a School Strike for Climate rally when she was 15)
- At your door: a climate change artwork (Alexa’s final high school year artwork)
- 10 principles of nonviolence
- Nonviolence as a Framework for Youth Work Practice
- The paradox of inconsequence
- Climate change: we need to clean up after ourselves
If you find any problems with the blog, (e.g., broken links or typos) I’d love to hear about them. You can either add a comment below or contact me via the Contact page.