Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) protesters stirred up the conversation yesterday as they interrupted Peabody Energy‘s President and Chief Operating Officer Glenn Kellow at Brisbane Global Cafe environmental talks.
The group stood up and began chanting after Mr Kellow made a comment about the potential of coal mining to solve poverty and then peacefully left the building.
AYCC, a coalition of young people representing 100 nations including 19 of the 20 of the G20 nations, launched an open letter to end Peabody’s campaign for fossil fuel energy.
AYCC’s Seed Indigenous Coordinator Amelia Telford said the group of eight young adults took a stand against climate change in Australia in the lead up to this weekend’s G20 Leaders’ Summit.
“[Peabody] are running a Public Relations campaign at the moment saying that coal can be clean and that poor people need coal,” Ms Telford said.
“All around the world people are feeling the effects from global warming – especially indigenous people.
We might not have a multi-million advertising campaign but we’re running a counter-PR campaign on behalf of our generation and future generations.”
Ms Telford, a young Bundjalung woman, said five other Indigenous youth came from as far as Darwin and Mildura to attend the protest, just days after the Brisbane Aboriginal-Sovereign Embassy’s anti-mining and fracking protest.
Mr Kellow addressed the Brisbane Global Cafe on behalf of Peabody and presented their ideas about providing energy to poorer nations to assist in their development of sustainable economic growth.
“It’s hard to find a time when energy hasn’t been at the heart of the world’s biggest concerns,” Mr Kellow said.
“For many developing worlds, having any energy is a major concern.
“Energy should be accessible and affordable.
“The air should get cleaner every day.”
While experts at the Brisbane Global Cafe agreed that the air should be cleaner, there was growing debate on how the world could achieve this outcome.
Dr Bjorn Lomborg, the leader of a think tank of economists in Copenhagen, challenged perceived mainstream notions on solving the energy crisis and poverty across all continents.
During his presentation Power to the People, Dr Lomborg said that the world’s biggest issue should be measured by how many people are killed by its effects.
As a result of this, he determined that poverty is the world’s biggest issue followed by air pollution.
“A large part of poverty is caused by energy.
According to macroeconomic evidence, if you get more energy, you get richer, if you get less, you get poorer,” Mr Kellow said.
“The concept of we need more solar is partially true.
It only scratches the surface.
We all talk about getting renewable energies but this is the opposite of what we need to do.”
Mr Lomborg predicted that the world would use 79% of its fossil fuels to power the planet by 2035 which was less than the 82% that was presently being used.
He said he believed the world needed to find cheaper energy alternatives and focus on “worrying less about handling the heat.”