Some of Australia’s leading NGOs and biggest environmental advocacy groups have delivered an open letter to AGL urging the energy major to drop its legal action against Greenpeace Australia Pacific ahead of next week’s hearing in the Federal Court.
The letter, addressed to AGL CEO Graeme Hunt, Board Director Peter Botten, and the AGL Board of Directors, describes AGL’s actions as an attack on civil society, a direct affront to free speech and the ability of organisations to hold corporations to account on climate change.
Rather than suing environmental advocacy organisations, the letter insists that as Australia’s top domestic contributor to climate change, AGL should focus on retiring its coal fleet and switching its energy generation to 100% renewable energy.
Australian Conservation Foundation Chief Executive Kelly O’Shanassy said: “Community campaigning to draw attention to companies that are making global warming worse is a legitimate response to the climate crisis that should not be stamped on. AGL is a big climate polluter. Fact.”
NSW Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said: “It would be more useful if the company was prepared to work constructively towards the transition rather than using the courts to stifle its critics.”
Environment Victoria CEO Jono La Nauze said: “AGL wants to use their logo in ads greenwashing their business, but they’re suing a charity for using it in a parody ad that is simply stating the facts. AGL needs to stop attacking critics and start getting serious about climate change.”
350.org Australia CEO Lucy Manne said: “Big polluters like AGL have a history of intimidation and scare tactics to stop activists from holding them accountable for their destruction. Everyday people are fighting back against these giants whose days are coming to end.”
Dear Mr Hunt, Mr Botten and the AGL Board,
Re: Legal action against Greenpeace Australia Pacific
As Australia’s single biggest climate polluter, AGL must play a key role in Australian climate action and our transition towards clean energy.
We are alarmed by the recent legal action initiated by AGL against Greenpeace Australia Pacific. We see this as a direct affront to free speech and the ability of our organisations to hold corporations to account on urgent climate action. The ability to publicly call out corporations, businesses, governments and individuals that are standing in the way of this action, without fear of litigation or retribution, is key to this work. We firmly believe that it is critical that charities, not for profits, comedians and members of the community retain the right to criticise, parody and satirise corporations using their logo without the threat of litigation.
We call on you to drop this unnecessary attack on civil society and redirect your time, resources and focus toward creating a plan for AGL’s future that includes an urgent transition to clean renewable energy. This must include bringing forward the closure of your coal-burning power stations to 2030, at the latest, as this is the critical deadline for Australia’s coal fleet to be replaced with clean electricity such as solar, wind and clean storage to help avoid catastrophic climate change and its impacts.
AGL also has a responsibility to its workers and their communities to ensure a fair and just transition to renewable energy and needs to begin making plans now for the phase out of coal power. This includes establishing new, realistic closure timelines, and programs to support affected staff and contractors, their families and communities, including with retraining and redeployment and making a clear plan for the rehabilitation of AGL’s coal power stations and mines. This is the only feasible option that will ensure the future prosperity of AGL, its workers, communities and our environment.
We look forward to your response on this important matter.
Australian Conservation Foundation Climate Action Network Australia
Nature Conservation Council NSW Healthy Futures
Environment Victoria Vets for Climate Action
Friends of the Earth Surfers for Climate
350.org Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action
Human Rights Law Centre FutureSooner
The Australia Institute