Just yesterday, Bill McKibben was announced as this year’s recipient of the Sophie Prize for his work in “building a social movement to preserve a sustainable planet.” In receiving it, he joins the ranks of legends like Wangari Maathai, James Hansen, and Sheila Watt Cloutier. Meanwhile, Bill is about to start a two week tour of Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, bringing his Do the Maths message Downunder. Before he even lands in Australia, the Australian Coal Association has come out biting at his ankles…

“Foreigners coming to Australia to campaign against our national economy can do a lot of damage if their claims go unchallenged” – wrote the Australian Coal Association (ACA) in The Australian last month, attacking Bill McKibben in advance of his Do the Maths Australia tour

The tour begins on Monday, and the ACA is doing its best to discredit and rubbish Bill McKibben, but they’re nervous and full of bumbling attacks. Just last week, their CEO, Nikki Williams gave an address here in Sydney in which she took aim at activists who are challenging the might of the coal industry. She took particular aim at Bill for calling the Australian coalmining industry a ‘rogue industry’, saying “This sinful image is widely promoted by the self-styled planetary saints. The authors of such views are rarely seriously questioned about how they arrived at the view or whether the ‘facts upon which they rely’ are facts at all.”

It’s standard issue communications practice of the fossil fuel industry – discredit and make the oppostion sound unthruthful, and then over-inflate their own importance (for another example of William’s bumbling efforts to discredit Bill, see the bottom of this article).

Last week Bill gave a taste of his upcoming tour on a live cross to the ABC’s Lateline show. He also crushed arguments laid out by climate deniers. Well worth a watch – just click here.

In that interview, Bill gave some insight into our plans for bringing divestment campaigning to Australia. Although it has to be said that The Guardian did an even better job in announcing our plans for divestment campaign in this article. So things are hotting up here in Australia, and with many of the venues nearly sold out for Bill’s Australia tour, you’ll want to get in quick to get a slice of the action! For more info and tickets, visit maths.350.org/australia

The second stop on Bill’s tour is New Zealand, where the movement there is fighting against the government initiated proliferation of fossil fuel extraction. As Bill said, New Zealand needs to decide whose company it wants to keep. Those countries like Germany that are moving fast to chart a new course in renewable energy, or those countries like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia that are reckoning they can keep the dirty years going a little longer”.

Internationally, New Zealand has a reputation as a clean and green sort of a place, but the current government is enacting policy after policy that is tearing that reputation to shreds. So it is only natural that during Bill’s tour, we’re launching divestment campaigning in New Zealand and upping the pressure for the government to halt it’s fossil fuel obsession.

To find out more about the New Zealand tour and book tickets, visit maths.350.org/nz

The third and final stop of the tour is Fiji, where Bill will be sailing on the magnificient Uto Ni Yalo (a tradtional Fijian style voyaging vessel) out to climate impacted areas, and then delivering a talk in Suva, with a focus on the role of the Pacific Islands in taking on climate change. More details will be coming about that shortly.

With that, it’s onwards we go in the new frontiers of divestment and maths!


Here’s another example of the bumbling attack on activists from Nikki Williams: 

“Let’s be clear. Greenhouse gases from burning coal are a problem. I simply point out some obvious truths: coal is being used and will continue to be used to drag hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. So, stopping Australia’s coal exports is a sham response, perhaps even a shameful response, if you are really concerned about global warming because if we don’t have a solution for coal use – particularly in China and India – we don’t have a solution to climate change. This incontrovertible fact is recognised by every major entity including the World Bank, the IEA and the IPCC.”

Don’t worry if you don’t follow the logic in that statement. I don’t either!

Source: Transcript of speech by Nikki Williams

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