Australians desperate for climate change action are now in open rebellion against the federal government for failing them, scientist Tim Flannery says.
Professor Flannery, who led the Climate Commission before the Abbott government axed it six years ago, says Australians fuelled by a deep sense of betrayal are rising up in the same way gold miners did during the Eureka rebellion of 1854.
"Civil society has been torn, like it was during the Eureka Stockade times," he has told ABC radio, ahead of national protests on Friday demanding stronger climate action by Australia.
"Rebellions happen when governments fail their people and that's what we're seeing right now - a rebellion because government has failed its people."
Prof Flannery says the government can expect an ongoing campaign of civil defiance, like Friday's Global Strike 4 Climate event that will see rallies staged in 110 towns and cities across Australia.
"It's part of a new wave of activism ... and we shall see where all of that leads."
Australia is among 150 countries that are staging rallies demanding an urgent escalation in climate change action, ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York next week.
Prof Flannery says many of the Aussie kids who'll leave their classrooms to join Friday's rallies will still be alive in 2100, when the world could be four degrees warmer and in the grip of a full-blown climate catastrophe.
"People like (British scientist) James Lovelock have warned us maybe it'll have resources to support a billion people rather than the seven billion we have now," the 2007 Australian of the Year said.
"Do you want your children to see that future, to go through that great winnowing where six out of seven may die?"
He said it was unsurprising that Prime Minister Scott Morrison would not attend the UN climate summit, because it is a forum for countries who recognise the grave threat and are willing to do more to fight it.
"Australia is not in that group. We could be, we should be, but we're not."
He said the 18-month period when Australia had a carbon tax was the only time in history that the nation's emissions fell while the economy grew.
"We know what to do, we know how to fix the problem. We just have to move out of this state of denialism and into action and our young people are leading the way.
"They have run out of words."
Australian Associated Press
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