Dan Spencer is a community campaigner with the Repower Port Augusta Alliance. He has lived in Port Augusta for three months in 2012 to work alongside the community in their campaign for solar thermal. He recently was awarded the Jill Hudson Award for Environmental Protection from the Conservation Council SA.
Thank you all so much for coming. I’d like to add my acknowledgement to the Kaurna people and acknowledge their sovereignty was never ceded.
Three years ago I attended the United Nations Climate Change Negotiations in Cancun, Mexico. It was there standing alongside people from places like Fiji and Nepal – whose homes were already being impacted by climate change and hearing how they were organizing to fight for theirs and our future – that I learnt how important it is that our movement listens to the people being most impacted by climate change and the burning of fossil fuels, whether it’s rising sea levels, extreme weather events or the high rates of cancer that plague coal communities.
It was this lesson that led me to dedicate myself to working alongside the Port Augusta community to campaign for a replacement of the ageing coal stations on the edge of their town with Australia’s first concentrated solar thermal plants with storage.
“They told us we wouldn’t get here, there were those who said we would only get here over their dead bodies. All the world today knows that we are here and we are standing before the forces of power in Alabama saying ‘We ain’t gonna let nobody turn us around!’” – Martin Luther King Jr, Selma to Montgomery, March 1965.
I will never know the names of the people who marched from Selma to Montgomery with Dr King and chances are you won’t either. Nor are you likely to know the names of the people who walked with Gandhi on the Salt March, yet our history and imaginations are caught by the thought of hundreds of ordinary people going to (and walking for) extraordinary lengths to fight for justice. No matter what came, nothing would move these people, and nobody could turn them around.
These walks have often been taken and led by people on the margins, whether on the wrong side of segregation or an invasion, people who were willing to do whatever it took to achieve freedom.
This year a small city in rural South Australia has captured the attention and imagination of the climate movement. This place is called Port Augusta. Home to two dirty coal fired power stations facing closure, you wouldn’t be wrong in saying that the town’s future is uncertain. However, out of this uncertainty the Port Augusta community has found hope and started to organise and write its own future. Continue reading →