Australia: Greenpeace action on Sydney bridge to call for climate emergency declaration

On 14 May 2019, Greenpeace supporters climbed the Harbour Bridge in Sydney, Australia, to demand that Prime Minister Scott Morrison declares a climate emergency.  

The action was streamed live on Facebook and Youtube just like a full news tv coverage with cameras on location, prerecorded interviews and commentators in the studio.

“What we are calling for today is leadership from our supposed leaders to declare a climate emergency.”
~ Lewis, data analyst, Greenpeace activist

The Australian media was right over it, breaking the news right from the early morning on national tv and news websites, and at a press conference, Prime Minister Scott Morrison responded to questions from journalist about Greenpeace’s peaceful protest.

The protest were featured in 1,621 tv pieces, 794 radio pieces and 750 online news articles, including headline news segments on major networks across Australia.

Greenpeace succeeded in making ‘climate emergency’ the topic of the day.

“The coverage so far has been unavoidable, and has put the climate crisis front and centre in the national media as Australia heads to the polls this week,” wrote Greenpeace in a newsletter.

The climbers were joined at the base of the bridge by seven Australians who have experienced climate damage first-hand to demand that Scott Morrison declare a climate emergency.

Greenpeace wrote on Facebook:

“Scott Morrison may not be in government by the end of this week. But we’re giving him one last chance to declare a #climateemergency! We will not stop fighting to save our home after the election, but we need action right now. The science is clear: Governments have to act now to replace fossil fuels with renewables and drastically reduce emissions if we are to even have a better than 50/50 chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change. Tell them here >>

“We are here today because we feel we are in a climate emergency. We are seeing the Great Barrier Reef dying.”
~ Tony, dive operator, Great Barrier Reef

At 6am in the morning, Greenpeace Australia Pacific CEO David Ritter took his place alongside the seven Australians, to represent the one and a half million people who are part of Greenpeace Australia Pacific. 

“I was also there as a dad who is deeply worried about the future for my own kids,” he wrote in a newsletter later on the day, and continued:

“The Australian families being hurt by climate damage have been forgotten by the government, abandoned by a Prime Minister who once carried a lump of coal into parliament.

Climate damage is already here – from the fires in Tasmania to the drought in interior, the heat waves in our cities, the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef and the storms and floods in Queensland, climate damage is hurting people and is destroying the places we love.  And we are on track for everything getting much worse: according to the world’s scientists my children could see four degrees of warming in their lifetimes.

The number one cause of climate change in Australia is coal – but our current government doesn’t have a plan for replacing our ageing, dirty, coal-fired power stations with clean energy.

We are in a climate emergency, but as we stood there this morning it was impossible not to feel a profound spirit of hope. All over the world people are standing up, speaking out and taking action. We have the solutions and it is not too late to change course, to build a different future that is powered by clean energy and animated by a spirit of kindness. And we know that people working together can achieve virtually anything.”

13 people were taken to Day Street and Surry Hills police stations to assist with inquiries.


Scott Morrison: Declare a climate emergency
“Dear Prime Minister Scott Morrison,
Australia’s climate is in a state of crisis. I call on you to declare a climate emergency now. I stand with the #ClimateEmergency activists and I am willing to do what it takes to ensure the next government acts on the climate crisis, including taking part in the growing movement of peaceful defiance.”

→ Read more / sign the petition on

Media coverage

→ Sydney Morning Herald – 14 May 2019:
Protesters scale Sydney Harbour Bridge to declare ‘climate emergency’
“Thirteen people have been arrested after environmental group Greenpeace called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to “declare a climate emergency” by protesting on the Sydney Harbour Bridge on Tuesday morning.”

→ ABC News – 14 May 2019:
Sydney Harbour Bridge used by Greenpeace activists to protest climate change
“NSW police officers have arrested 15 people after removing Greenpeace climate change protesters hanging off the Sydney Harbour Bridge this morning.”

→ – 14 May 2019:
Couple’s heartbreaking story among activists who scaled Sydney Harbour Bridge
“A Townsville couple has shared the heartbreaking reason why they protested at Sydney Harbour Bridge today.”

→ The Guardian / Australian Associated Press – 14 May 2019:
Sydney Harbour Bridge protest: 13 arrested in climate demonstration
“Greenpeace supporters abseil off bridge unfurling banners calling on political parties to declare a ‘climate emergency’.”


Greenpeace Australia Pacific tweeted on 16 May 2019 that opposition leader Bill Shorten has declared a climate emergency, two days after six Greenpeace activists – backed by climate survivors and thousands of Australians – scaled Sydney Harbour Bridge to call for one.