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'We declare our support for Extinction Rebellion': an open letter from Australia's academics


Sharlene King
20 September 2019

We, the undersigned, represent diverse academic disciplines, and the views expressed here are those of the signatories and not their universities.

While our academic perspectives and expertise may differ, we are united on one point: we can no longer tolerate the failure of the Australian government, or any other government, to take robust and urgent action to address the worsening ecological crisis.

The science is clear, the facts are incontrovertible. We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, with about 200 species becoming extinct each day. This includes many species of insects, some of which are essential to our food systems. Many people around the world have already died or been displaced from the effects of a rapidly warming climate. July 2019 was the Earth’s hottest on record. Arctic peat is burning and ice is melting at rates far beyond even the most radical scientific predictions. The Amazon is burning at an alarming rate. All are creating devastating feedback loops, releasing more CO2 and reducing the Earth’s heat reflecting capacities.

Humans cannot continue to violate the fundamental laws of nature or ignore the basic science with impunity. As oceans rise and temperatures soar, ecosystems will continue to collapse. As resources diminish, social unrest and civilisation collapse are likely. The most marginalised and vulnerable in society will be hit first and hit hardest. And If we continue on our current path, the future of our own species is bleak.

The Earth has already undergone a 1C rise in global mean temperature since pre-industrial times and reports now suggest that a rise of any more than another 0.5C will be devastating. Preventing this will require a global transition to zero-carbon economies immediately. Conservative reports say we have 30 years to make this transition, but more recent science suggests we have closer to 10. Fortunately, we have the technology available to do this, but it will only be possible if we act now, and urgently.

Australia’s current climate policies and practices are dire. Rather than making the urgent structural changes necessary for a sustainable and just transition toward zero emissions, the Australian government is continuing to prop up and expand coal and other CO2-emitting industries. Australia is not even meeting its Paris agreement targets which, according to recent reports, are themselves far from adequate.
It is unconscionable that we, our children and grandchildren should have to bear the terrifying brunt of this unprecedented disaster. When a government wilfully abrogates its responsibility to protect its citizens from harm and secure the future for generations to come, it has failed in its most essential duty of stewardship. The ‘social contract’ has been broken, and it is therefore not only our right, but our moral duty, to rebel to defend life itself.

We therefore declare our support for the Extinction Rebellion (XR) movement and the global week of non-violent civil disobedience and disruption planned for October. We stand behind XR’s demands for the Australian government to declare a climate emergency and to establish a citizens’ assembly to work with scientists on the basis of current evidence to develop a credible and just plan for rapid total decarbonisation of the economy.

In addition, we call on all Australian universities and other major institutions to immediately divest funds from all fossil fuel and other industries which are contributing to the climate crisis, and to redirect investments urgently toward the renewable energy sector and other climate enhancing technologies.

We also recognise the crucial role First Nations people in Australia and across the globe, have played for tens of thousands of years, and continue to play, in maintaining species, and caring for the land, water and air. We therefore declare our support for the urgent establishment of a treaty with First Nation Australians, to recognise Indigenous sovereignty and to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to continue protecting what they have already cared for, for so long.


Dr Peta Malins, RMIT University

Prof Rob Watts, RMIT University

Kara Sandri, RMIT University

Prof Alison Young, University of Melbourne

Dr Kirsty Duncanson, La Trobe University

Dr Maria Elander, La Trobe University

Dr Rachel Loney-Howes, University of Wollongong

Dr Bianca Fileborn, University of Melbourne

Dr Kari Lancaster, University of New South Wales

Dr Hannah Robert, La Trobe University

Emeritus Prof Paul Patton, University of New South Wales

Dr Linda Kouvaras, University of Melbourne

Nadia David, RMIT University

Anna Hickey-Moody, RMIT University

Dr Kate Driscoll, RMIT University

Ellan Lincoln-Hyde, University of Melbourne Alumni

Catherine Strong, RMIT University

Prof Daniel Palmer, RMIT University

Assoc Prof Charles Livingstone, Monash University

Laura Griffin, La Trobe University

Dr Karen Crawley, Griffith University

Amy Boyle, University of Wollongong

Alasdair Henry, RMIT University

Prof Ian Lowe, Griffith University

Emeritus Prof Joseph A Camilleri OAM, La Trobe University

Dr Deborah Bower, University of New England

Prof Judith Bessant, RMIT University

Connor Jolley, RMIT University

Prof Jill Blackmore, FASSA AM, Deakin University

Emeritus Prof Anna Yeatman, Western Sydney University

Emeritus Professor Michael Rowan, University of South Australia

Dr Piper Rodd, Deakin University

Prof Jeff Malpas, University of Tasmania

Prof Janet McCalman AC, FAHA, FASSA, University of Melbourne

Dr Amy Nethery, Deakin University

Robin Bellingham, Deakin University

Gabrielle Dalsasso, University of Melbourne

Prof Patrick McGorry, University of Melbourne

Dr Francesca Bussey, Deakin University

Prof Paul James, Western Sydney University

Adj Prof Verity Burgmann, Monash University

Prof Andrew Milner, Monash University

Dr Charles Barbour, Western Sydney University

Dr Trace Ollis, Deakin University

Dr Maree Pardy, Deakin University

Prof Joseph M Siracusa, RMIT University

Michael Bird, James Cook University

Dr Lucinda McKnight, Deakin University

Lucy Maxwell, RMIT University

Dr Jo Elliott, Deakin University

Prof Lyn Yates, University of Melbourne

Prof Margaret Thornton, Australian National University

Assoc Prof Nicola Henry, RMIT University

Assoc Prof Vivien Holmes, ANU

Prof Keith Jacobs, University of Tasmania

Dr Crystal McKinnon, RMIT University

Dr Sharon Andrews, RMIT University

Dr Michael Crowhurst, RMIT University

Dr Larissa Sandy, RMIT University

Dr Liz Curran Assoc. Professor, ANU College of Law

Emeritus Prof Adrian Evans, Monash University

Dr Angelika Papadopoulos, RMIT University

Dr Simon Kerr, La Trobe University

Christine Craik, RMIT University

Dr Max Kelly, Deakin University

Dr Greg Dingle, La Trobe University

Anneka Ferguson, Australian National University

Dr Marcus Banks, RMIT University

Prof Rob White, University of Tasmania

Dr Eve Mayes, Deakin University

Belinda Johnson, RMIT University

Brooke Wilmsen, La Trobe University

Dr Benjamin Habib, La Trobe University

Dr Samantha Balaton-Chrimes, Deakin University

Dr Kellie Sanders, Deakin University

Danielle Chubb, Senior Lecturer, Deakin University

Dr Rebecca Monson, Australian National University

Prof Christine Parker, University of Melbourne

Liz Conor, La Trobe University.

Dr Kathryn Gilbey, University Southern Queensland

James Rowe, RMIT University

Dr Sebastian Cordoba, RMIT University

Assoc Prof Georgina Heydon, RMIT University

Bruce Mountain, Victoria University

Dr Anita Smith, La Trobe University

Assoc Prof Karien Dekker, RMIT University

Prof Emerita Carol Bacchi, University of Adelaide

Dr Ralph Newmark, La Trobe University

Pamela Taylor-Barnett, Australian National University

Peter Christoff, University of Melbourne

Assoc Prof Becky Batagol, Monash University

Dr Emily Gray, RMIT University

Melissa Laing, RMIT University

Juliana Ryan, RMIT University

Shane Duggan, RMIT University

Dr Monica Barratt, RMIT University

Dr Peter Ferguson, Deakin University

Orana Sandri, RMIT University

Adrian Farrugia, La Trobe University

Dr Alison Lugg, RMIT University

Philippa Collin, Western Sydney University

Aleryk Fricker, RMIT University

Peta White, Deakin University

Dr Marietta Martinovic, RMIT University

Dr Will Grant, ANU

Peter Chambers, RMIT University

Dr Rowena Maguire, Queensland University of Technology

Dr Elise Klein (OAM), University of Melbourne

Robin Cameron, RMIT University

Claire Loughnan, University of Melbourne

Thomas Moore, RMIT University

Assoc Prof Wendy Steele, RMIT University

Professor Jago Dodson, RMIT University

Assoc Prof Anastasia Powell, RMIT University

Professor Murray Lee, University of Sydney

Margareta Windisch, RMIT

Professor Kane Race, University of Sydney

Jane Park, University of Sydney

Prof Reece Walters, Deakin University

Prof Libby Porter, RMIT University

Prof Ron Adams, Victoria University

Prof Meaghan Morris, University of Sydney

Jharana Bhattarai, RMIT University

Dr Grace Sharkey, University of Sydney

Honorary Assoc Prof Anitra Nelson, RMIT University

Assoc Prof Asher Flynn, Monash University

Patricia Lloyd, ACU International, Melbourne

Dr Helen Keane, ANU

Assoc Prof Thom van Dooren, University of Sydney

Emeritus Prof Tim Rowse, Western Sydney University

Dr Elizabeth Humphrys, University of Technology Sydney

Dr Heather Benbow, University of Melbourne

Tinonee Pym, Swinburne University of Technology

Dr Anthony Hopkins, Australian National University

Dr. Gemma Hamilton, RMIT University

Mittul Vahanvati, RMIT

Ms Lisa de Kleyn, RMIT University

Michele Ruyters, RMIT University

Dr. Blanche Verlie, RMIT University

Liam Clapp, RMIT University

Alex Poll, Swinburne University

Dr Benjamin Cooke, RMIT University

Dr. Adriana Keating, RMIT University

Assoc Prof Wendy Steele, RMIT

Prof Jill Blackmore, FASSA AM, Deakin University

Dr Cullan Joyce, University of Divinity

Carlos Eduardo Morreo, Australian National University

Dr Rachel Forgasz, Monash University.

Rod Quantock OAM, Melbourne University

James Desmond, Monash University

Pamela Lyon, Flinders University

Matthew Flinders, Flinders University

Dr Emma Shortis, RMIT University

Professor Mark R. Shortis, RMIT University

Peter Young, Griffith University

Professor Allison Kealy, RMIT University

Kathleen Aikens, Monash University

Polly Chester, Griffith University

Dr Paul Harris, Griffith University

Bronwyn Charles, Griffith University

Dr Brett Carter, RMIT University

Dr. Peter Raisbeck, University of Melbourne

Dr Pooja Sawrikar, Griffith University

Mariela Soto-Berelov, RMIT University

Marilyn Casley, Griffith University

Dr Till Mostowlansky, Monash University

Dr Brook Bolander, Monash University

Dr Michelle Newcomb, Griffith University

Tania Webster, Monash University

Dr Claudia Catterall, Ecologist, Southern Cross University

Dr Sander Scheffers, Southern Cross University

Dr Helen Maguire, University of Sydney

Neil Gunningham, Australian National University

Prof Kate Burridge, Monash University

Dr Judith Rosentreter, Southern Cross University

Emeritus Prof David Farrier, University of Wollongong

John Braithwaite, Australian National University

Dr Jennifer Boddy, Griffith University

Professor Scott Gregory Johnston, Southern Cross University

Prof Jacqueline Peel, University of Melbourne

Assoc Prof Iris Duhn, Monash University

Cam Pettiona, Monash University

Emeritus Prof Ben Boer, University of Sydney

Ben Abraham, University of Technology Sydney

Dr Judith Dwyer, Flinders University

Gina Chow, Monash University

Dr Kevin Glencross, Southern Cross University

Dr Ross Goldingay, Southern Cross University

Mona Malekzadeh, Southern Cross University

Dr Brent Keogh, University of Technology Sydney

Dr Kirin Apps, Cross University

Associate Professor Tema Milstein, University of New South Wales

Ceylena Holloway, Southern Cross University

Dr Lynette Pretorius, Monash University

Dr Allie Ford, Monash University

Dr Francesca da RiminiUniversity of Technology Sydney

Dr Martin Wolterding, Western Sydney University

Adj Prof Melinda Rackham, University of South Australia

Dr Tony Haigh, Western Sydney University

Lorraine Walker, Monash University

Dr Phillipa McCormack, University of Tasmania

Jasmine Evans, Monash University

Dr. Jeremy Walker, University of Technology Sydney

Dr Nicole Graham, The University of Sydney

Dr Alessandro Pelizzon, Southern Cross University

Assoc Prof Amelia Thorpe, University of NSW

Professor Jan McDonald, University of Tasmania

Assoc Prof Kate Galloway, Bond University

Una Stone, RMIT

Prof Kathy Bowrey, University of NSW

Prof Rosemary Lyster, University of Sydney

Dr Peter Jones, James Cook University

Professor Kathy Bowrey, Faculty of Law, University of NSW

Assoc Prof Belinda Smith, Sydney Law School

Adj Prof Rob Fowler, University of South Australia

Stefan Ziemer, Monash University

Trudi Gilmore, Monash University

Tully O’Neill, RMIT University

Dr Bertram Jenkins, University of New England

Assoc Prof Amy Lykins, University of New England

Sarah McCook, RMIT University

Dr Nicolette Larder, University of New England

Lena Molnar, RMIT University

Dr Shelley Wright, University of New England

Liz Charpleix, University of New England

Mia De Seram, Monash University

Karin von Strokirch, University of New England

Dr Gang-Jun Liu, RMIT University

Dr Pam Mulhall, Monash University

Dr Einar Thorsteinsson, University of New England

Madeline Taylor, University of Sydney

Dr Peter Lawrence, University of Tasmania

Prof Danielle Celermajer, University of Sydney

Lincoln Turner, Monash University

Dr Sandra D’Urso, Melbourne University

Prof Rachelle Buchbinder, Monash University

Prof Andrea Reupert Monash University

Barbara Cramer, Monash University

Lisa Ford, Monash University

Dr Frances Quinn, University of New England

Joy Whitton, Monash University

Prof Roy Tasker, Western Sydney University

Dr. Lesley Freeman, Monash University

Dr Marty Branagan, University of New England

Iliana O’Donnell, Monash University

Bridget Sadler, Monash University

Prof Naomi Langmore, Australian National University

Alan Reid, Monash University

Dr Tanya Howard, University of New England

Tim Collins, University of New England

Robert Rollin, Southern Cross University

Kylie Fennessy, Monash University

Assoc Prof Alice Gaby, Monash University

Dr David Moore, Monash University

Joanne Williams, Griffith University

Claire Hutton, Monash University

Dr Yuntian Brian Bai, RMIT University

Craig Taylor, Southern Cross University

Assoc Prof Lee Stickells, University of Sydney

Anna Filipi, Monash University

Jennifer Miles, Monash University

Dr Robyn Dwyer, La Trobe University

Dr Kim Polistina, Southern Cross University / CQUniversity

David Sabetfar, Monash University

Dr Rose Andrew, University of New England

Steve Mitchell, Monash University

Dr Amanda Beasley, Southern Cross University

Chris Ancora, Monash University

Jared Mansfield, Monash University

*This is an edited and adapted version of an open letter from 100 UK Academics published in The Guardian in 2018 (prepared by Alison Green and others, and adapted with permission).