Extinction Rebellion climate protesters shut down a major intersection in the Melbourne CBD during peak hour on Thursday.
Up to 100 protesters took part in the protest and were met with a strong police presence, Nine News reports.
They group took over the intersection of Latrobe Street and Queen Street at around 8am, blocking traffic for 20 minutes, before moving down Latrobe Street.
The activist group said the “colourful and dramatic protest” would be the first of three days it planned to create disruptions in the heart of the city, after blocking a major freeway exit during peak hour on Tuesday.
“There is a giant banner in the centre of the intersection calling for the declaration of a climate emergency and ‘COLLAPSE’ is painted in large letters on the road,” the group said in a press release.
“The four quadrants of the intersection are occupied by four groups — one in red/yellow/pink with messages about the risk of catastrophic fires and opposing fossil fuels, the second in orange tents with messages about conflict and mass forced displacement, the third in blue with messages about sea-level rise and flooding, and the fourth in green with messages about the collapse of forests and other ecosystems.”
Extinction Rebellion spokeswoman Jane Morton said in a statement that “most people still think that the climate emergency means we are risking some floods, fires and hot weather, but that we will be able to adapt”.
“They are not aware that billions will die or be displaced and that we risk a level of famine, water shortages and conflict that could end organised society,” she said.
“They are not aware how close we are to triggering a cascade of feedbacks that could take us to a hothouse earth and an unliveable planet and make humans (and most of the natural world) extinct.”
Fellow spokeswoman Catherine Strong said the federal government was “refusing to honour its duty of care to protect us”.
“During the election campaign Chris Bowen, Minister for Climate, repeatedly said, ‘The world’s climate emergency is Australia’s jobs opportunity,’” she said.
“However, since the election, federal Labor appear to have been cowered by the might of the fossil fuel industry and backtracked. They are not even prepared to take the most basic baby steps like banning new coal and gas.”
Victoria Police confirmed it would be running a public order operation from March 25 to 28 “in response to protest activity occurring across Melbourne”.
“We are expecting some disruptions to traffic in the city across these days due to the protestor’s actions, however police will be taking swift action to minimise disruptions and to ensure the community can continue to go about their daily lives,” a spokeswoman said.
“Uniform police will be supported by the Public Order Response Team, Highway Patrol, Search and Rescue, Water Police, Transit police and PSOs throughout the three days to patrol the city and respond to any incidents that may occur.”