Climate protestors stall Australia's largest coal terminal
photo of coal stockpiled for export at the Newcastle Coal Terminal north of Sydney, Australia. Protesters occupied the port calling for an immediate moratorium on expansion of Australia's coal industry.
Dozens of Australian climate change activists stopped operations at the world’s largest coal terminal on Sunday. More than 40 people broke into the terminal in the east-coast city of Newcastle and climbed atop coal-loading equipment.
“We’re staging an emergency intervention into Australia’s number one cause of global warming,” protest spokeswoman Annika Dean said in a statement.
She demanded an “immediate moratorium on the expansion of the coal industry.” Australia, which relies on coal for 86 per cent of its electricity generation, is the world’s biggest polluter on a per capita basis and also the world’s largest coal exporter.
Dean said operations could not continue without endangering the climbers.
“We’ve been forced to make our dramatic protest today because the federal government is failing to take any action.” The Labour government, which dumped a plan to introduce a carbon trading scheme in April, is promising action on global warming after convening a “citizen’s assembly” that would meet for a year.
The protesters, from environmental action group Rising Tide, sneaked into Newcastle Port before dawn and attached themselves to loaders in what they called “an emergency intervention“.
“Operations were stopped from dawn through to mid-morning,” a spokesman for the port said. “There was a total shutdown for a period of about five hours, (and) a disruption for a period of about eight hours.”
Police said seven men and two women had chained themselves to or suspended themselves from machinery, while another 32 activists stormed the Port Waratah Coal facility to occupy a coal stockpile.
“All nine protesters who were tied to the structures were eventually removed by officers from the Police Rescue Squad, arrested and taken to Newcastle Police Station,” police said, adding that they had been charged with trespass.
Those who occupied the stockpile were also arrested, but they were released without charge and are likely to be fined at a later date. Cranes were used to move some of the activists.