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This is not a drill

Statement by Chooks Community January 2020

This is not a drill and we would like to share our climate statement with you.

Statement of concern and call for action on climate emergency and ecological crisis from the Chooks SA community.

Chooks SA is a movement of some 3000 individuals actively working to close the gender investment gap by addressing underlying causes and providing ongoing support to women innovators and entrepreneurs.

Chooks SA acknowledges the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first inhabitants of the nation and the traditional custodians of the lands where we live, learn, and work.

The catastrophic bushfires of 2019 – 2020 have now directly impacted six Australian states, including our home state of South Australia. The full tragic weight of the losses wrought — lost lives, homes, culturally significant sites, livelihoods, habitats, likely entire species — is incalculable.

These fires have been burning for months, releasing sequestered carbon that can only accelerate the global processes that helped ignite them. They started earlier than is typical, and they are burning at a scale and with an intensity that is unprecedented in this continent’s long history. Also unprecedented are the last decade’s summer temperatures, with records continuing to be broken. As this beautiful country goes up in flames and ash falls as far away as New Zealand, a second ecological collapse looms, with already distressed waterways like the Murray-Darling river system expected to rapidly acidify. We call for this climate emergency and ecological crisis to be officially recognised, and for appropriate action to be taken.

The events we have described above have confronted Australians with the full implications of failing to address global climate change. The recent bushfires have forced hundreds of Australian residents and holidaymakers to evacuate whole regions, becoming perhaps our earliest climate refugees, but definitely not our last. In fact, our brothers and sisters in the Torres Strait Islands have seen some of their island communities suffer the effects of global warming-induced rising waters, causing inundation that has desecrated burial sites and which threaten abandonment of islands that they have inhabited for millennia. In these recent bushfire crises ravaging the Australian landscape, we also know that sacred sites and long cared for landscapes of Aboriginal Australians have been among the places scorched by the raging fires. We recognise the rights and leadership of Australia’s First Nations.

We also recognise their knowledges and custodial practices have much to teach us in addressing this crisis and being resilient in these times. But our nation has so far failed to do the required measures to heal the ongoing injustices and traumas of colonialism. We cannot justly call on First Nations’ knowledges of care for this unique land until we consolidate measures to decolonise. Therefore, while we here address the climate emergency, we also call for simultaneous and interconnected commitments to prioritise First Nations’ agendas as expressed in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the call for a Makaratta and a prioritisation of First Nations’ well-being in the climate emergency we now confront.

This climate emergency is very real to us in South Australia. We are the driest state, on the driest inhabited continent and we are largely dependent on the River Murray system for our health, wealth and well-being. Our precious Kangaroo Island has suffered burning of at least a third of its land mass, devastation for its tourism and primary industries and heart-breaking loss of lives, homes, habitat and species. Our Adelaide Hills, with its primary producers and wine makers, have also been devastated by fires in this recent event.

We are told that this is only the beginning. Our network is set to mobilise the enormous capacity and range of talents our members possess to offer support to those impacted by this recent bushfire catastrophe. But this we know is only a short-term and limited intervention to give aid to those we can help. We therefore raise our voices to call on Australian leadership at all levels, in government, in business and in communities, to recognise and respond to the climate emergency we now face.

This unprecedented situation calls for unprecedented action from all of us. A multi-pronged, collaborative, and resourced response is urgently needed. We must demand the following as a minimum response:

● Declaration of a climate emergency;

● Meaningful collaboration in COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference to keep global warming below 1.5⁰ C that scientists say is vital;

● Real commitment to achieving Net Zero by 2030 and demonstrable progress towards that goal through a fair and just transition within five years;

● Commitment to build a regenerative economy that focuses on people’s well-being and ecological thriving over redundant growth-based economics.

The time for climate denial and climate inaction has passed; protecting vested interests while the planet burns is now exposed as a disaster-inducing strategy. We need new ways of thinking and understanding to align with the ancient wisdom of our land. We add our voices to those that want Australia to play an active role in the global effort to address this very real threat we face together.

Together we can reach Net Zero, develop just transitions to sustainable futures, build a regenerative approach to human economies, and focus on people and planetary well-being. Together we can turn this climate emergency into something that builds us rather than breaks us.

10 January 2020

Authorised by Moira Were AM, Founder and Curator Chooks SA

Chooks SA PO Box 142 Willunga SA 5172

Please feel free to share this statement with others. We sent it to all South Australian Senators, Prime Minister and Premier of South Australia.

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