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Protesters with signs at Sydney Climate Protest
Photograph: Flickr/Kate Ausburn

Everything you need to know about today’s bushfire and climate justice rally

Written by
Maxim Boon

In every major Australian city today, as unprecedented bushfires continue to destroy our landscapes, incinerate our wildlife, and clog our air, protest rallies will be assembling to express the public outrage over the government’s inaction on climate policy. Several major demonstrations protesting the climate emergency have taken to Sydney’s streets in recent months, including a gathering of around 10,000 in December. However, today's protest, at Sydney Town Hall at 5.30pm, is shaping up to be one of the biggest gatherings yet.

Whether you’re planning on adding your voice to the throng calling for decisive leadership through the climate crisis, or you’re hoping to avoid the protest crush, these are the essential details you need to know about today’s Climate Action Now rally.

If you’re going

It’s worth arriving early

The official kick-off time for the protest is 5.30pm, outside Sydney Town Hall. However, it’s likely, given that the number of attendees is estimated to be at least 12,000, that prime positions close to the Town Hall will fill up quickly, so it’s worth arriving early if you want a decent spot.

It’s going to be sweaty 

Temperatures in the city are set to peak around 28 degrees, but with the extra body heat coming from the human soup of protestors you’re likely to be surrounded by, it’s going to feel a lot warmer. Bring water, dress to sweat, and if you find that you’re feeling unwell, don’t keep it to yourself. Make sure those around you are aware so they can give you some space and get help if needed.

Air quality is good in Sydney today, but keep checking

Today’s air quality rating is one of the best we’ve had this week, currently rated ‘good to moderate’, which is a minor miracle considering that the air was classed as ‘hazardous’ just a few days ago. It’s likely to remain good for the rest of the day, but be vigilant: there are strong winds forecast that may bring bushfire smoke into the city centre. You can find real-time information on the air quality in the city here. If you don’t currently own a P2 filter mask (a basic surgical mask is not sufficient to protect from extreme levels of smoke pollution) it’s worth picking one up – you can find them in most hardware stores.

Bring your outrage, but keep it civil

Today’s protests, which are also happening in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, have raised concerns among city officials that unreasonable demands may be put on infrastructure and emergency personnel, who are already stretched thin. Please show our amazing fire, police and ambulance workers the courtesy of protesting peacefully.

Make sure your placard brings the LOLs

Today's protests are a serious business, but as climate rallies in recent months have reliably shown, Sydney's protestors are masters when it comes to making LOL-worthy placards. So, make sure you bring your pun, meme, and dad-joke a-game to your protest banners.

If you’re not going

Rush hour is going to be hectic

The protest in the heart of the CBD is due to start at 5.30pm, and with the massive influx of people converging from all over the city, the post-work rush hour is likely to be nightmarish. If it’s possible, take an early mark and get out of the city beforehand, or plan an alternative route to avoid the area around Sydney Town Hall.

Public transport is likely to be disrupted 

While rail, bus and light rail services are scheduled to operate as normal, some disruption should be expected. In addition to the extra volume of people travelling to Town Hall station on Sydney’s rail network, the newly opened light rail stations by Town Hall are likely to be suspended or delayed around 5.30pm, so if you’re relying on public transport to get you out of the CBD after work, plan alternative routes or travel later in the evening.

Donate to the bushfire relief efforts

Demonstrating isn’t for everyone, we get it. But we’re sure you support the four main actions this protest is calling for: funding for firefighters, relief and aid for affected communities, land and water sovereignty for indigenous communities, and an immediate transition toward renewable energy. Even if you can’t make it to today’s rally, you can still show solidarity with climate change protestors by donating to one of the amazing charities working to support the people and animals from the worst impacted areas, such as the Red Cross or WIRES.

You can do your part for the bushfire relief efforts by attending one of these incredible fundraisers.

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