Skipper Stories; How a group of surfers made waves for climate action

by Skipper Team

Skipper Stories is a new initiative by the Skipper team, designed to shine a spotlight on bold individuals and organisations displaying extraordinary leadership for the sake of their communities and the planet.

We’re extremely proud to launch our Skipper Stories project with an inspiring story of grassroots activism from the Australian Charity, Surfers for Climate — who have successfully championed a movement to ban new offshore oil and gas exploration in NSW’s state waters.

We sat down with Josh Kirkman, Surfers for Climate’s CEO to discuss a monumental step taken by the NSW parliament in the wake of an ongoing campaign for our climate and a healthy ocean.

So, what’s the story? 

In March 2024, the NSW Parliament passed the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Sea Bed Mining and Exploration) Bill, marking a pivotal moment in Australia's ongoing battle against climate change.

The relentless advocacy of a dedicated group of surfers, known as Surfers for Climate, was instrumental in this outcome, inspiring hope across Australia about the possibilities for environmental progress in other states.

What does this new legislation mean? 

This legislation bans new offshore oil and gas exploration in NSW’s state waters for good, ensuring no form of fossil fuel development can take place within its coastal environment.

The bill's greatest impact, however, is that it also prevents any pipeline infrastructure from connecting NSW's shoreline to the commonwealth waters farther out at sea. This is crucial because while most projects occur in commonwealth waters, not the state waters, project economics are disrupted, and fail to add up if the resources cannot be transported back to shore for processing easily. Essentially, this is the most effective measure a state can take to protect its marine environment when there is a lack of political will on the federal level (and the latest gas strategy from the federal Labor Government signals that gas is on the menu in Commonwealth waters).

How did a group of surfers sway the bill? 

This campaign has been ongoing for many years, with numerous organisations and politicians rallying to protect our oceans. However, it was the distinctive approach to advocacy by this Australian charity, founded by Belinda Baggs and Johnny Abegg, that made a significant impact.

Surfer’s for Climate’s approach with this particular legislation was simple; engage their community, show up and show support, talk to politicians with respect, build strong relationships and give them a ‘pat on the back’ for what they do.

Josh explained that these relationships and conversations with the Liberal and National parties in opposition about backing legislation were critical in moving the bill forward. “This isn't typical of the environmental movement to have conversations or even good relationships with the conservative side of politics. What we know about NSW National and Liberal party politicians, however, is that they’re an excellent group of people who understand that a healthy environment is good for the economy too. It could be argued that the NSW Coalition in government was the leading light for decarbonisation and environmental protection in Australia for the past 5 years.

By fostering these alliances, Surfers for Climate helped shift the narrative towards a unanimous agreement on ocean protection, emphasising the power of human relationships in driving environmental change.

How can we get other states to follow suit? 

As we celebrate this monumental step forward, it's also a call to action. Let this victory be a catalyst, not just for celebration but to raise awareness of legislation that could and should be implemented across all of Australia. 

If you’re looking to take action, start by joining the formidable force that is Surfers for Climate. Not only are they advocating for this and similar ocean-protecting legislation to be actioned across the entire country, but they’re also educating and inspiring surfers to care about the climate and helping them implement climate solutions within their homes, workplaces, and communities. 

This landmark decision serves as a reminder of the impact that individuals and small groups can have on policy and public opinion. “The win in NSW is a huge opportunity for everyone around the country to believe it’s possible,” said Kirkman. 

If you live in NSW and happen to see your local politician on the street, maybe it's time to give them a pat on the back, acknowledging their part in this crucial environmental victory. After all, such moments of unity and progressive change are worth celebrating.

Visit Surfer’s for Climate’s website here or follow their journey on Instagram here.


Skipper is an environmental enterprise and Australia's #1 just-add-water home and personal care range. Our sustainable products skip the waste, our proceeds tackle the war on waste, and we passionately advocate for policy change that will prevent future waste. Our latest initiative, Skipper Stories is intended to highlight and celebrate bold leaders who are making a difference in the environmental space, with the hopes that we can help inspire more people to take action. You can learn more about us at

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