Sydney seldom sees a weekday action of such energy and enthusiasm as it did on 7 February. Around 200 of us, young and old, congregated on George Street, outside the pompous Ivy Complex. Our target, Adani’s Australian CEO Lucas Dow, who in 2014 orchestrated the sacking of 700 BHP mine workers, was there to address the Sydney Mining Club about the company’s Carmichael coalmine project in Queensland. 

It could not have been a better start for the fledgling Sydney University Stop Adani collective, which formed just weeks beforehand hoping to increase environmental activism on campus. Adani gave us just about the best hate figure short of Gautam Adani himself, and on the eve of the first organising meeting. 

Inside, Dow lamented the difficulties Adani has faced in realising its original plan for a $16.5 billion, 60 million tonne mega-mine. Poor old Dow faces a tough task. “There’s a Queensland competitor that every time he sees me gives me a cuddle”, Dow said. Even “battle hardened” mining bosses need friends.

Outside, protesters made our way from the street toward the entrance, our numbers swelled by office workers on their lunch breaks. Private security, flustered, scurried around begging police to clear us out of the way. Apparently, we are the real vandals – not Adani and its plan to dump hundreds of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Speeches from student activists, including a high school striker, argued for ongoing and mass resistance, drawing rapturous applause. For the first time, many young people are being drawn into the streets, aware of the urgency of the task at hand. 

Adani’s mine is only the thin edge of the fossil fuel wedge. Stopping Adani alone won’t save the planet. But the mine has become a symbol of all that is wrong with the fossil fuel industry and the system that produced it. 

Battle lines are being drawn. As one banner from the action declared, “The oceans are rising, and so are we!”