Australia: Activists close world's largest coal export port
Climate activists have closed down the three coal export terminals at Newcastle harbour, the world's largest coal export port, stopping all production and loading. "Urgent action against global warming is needed. We have been forced to make our dramatic protest today because the Federal government is failing to take any action." said Anika Dean from Rising Tide Newcastle.
The activists have called on Prime Minister Julia Gillard to take action on global warming and put an immediate moratorium on the expansion of the coal industry, and support the expansion of renewable industries.
The action started pre dawn with a team of eight activists entering the three coal terminals with climbing equipment and abseiling down structural cables that suspend the coal loaders over the coal ships, effectively stopping the use of this equipment due to safety requirements.
On one gantry activists suspended by ropes from the structural cables unfurled two banners saying "Coal export fuels global warming" and another "freak fires".
At 8.30am another thirty six people entered the coal terminals and locked on to ancillary equipment and unfurled banners. All shipping operations at the three terminals operated by Port Waratah Coal Services have been shut down by port authorities and police.
"We are staging an emergency intervention into Australia's number one cause of global warming." said Anika Dean spokesperson for Rising Tide Newcastle in a media statement.
"Around the world, the early impacts of unabated global warming are beginning to emerge. 2010 has been a year of tragic weather disasters."
"Thousands of people have died this year due to flash floods in Pakistan and China, and fires in Siberia. Millions of people are facing starvation due to a devastating drought in west Africa. These are the impacts of global warming that scientists have been warning us about for decades. Global warming is happening now, and it is killing people."
"Australia is a major contributor to this crisis, due to the massive volumes of coal we export. We are exporting global warming to the world. With the support of both Labor and the Coalition, Australia's coal exports are booming. Here in Newcastle, already the world's biggest coal port, multinational mining corporations are planning to triple exports over the next decade. It's a similar story at all coal ports in the country."said Ms Dean.
By mid afternoon on Sunday police had cut free two activists hanging from cables on a coal loader gantry and had arrested them, according to an ABC report. A spokeperson for Rising Tide said protestors are peaceful and are not resisting arrest.
Climate activists may be subject to $97,000 in "victims compensation" according to a report by Rising Tide Newcastle on their website. The Port Waratah Coal Services, controlled by Xstrata and Rio Tinto two of the world's largest mining companies, may be seeking $97,000 in "victims compensation" due to the disruption to coal loading due to the protest. Pursuit of such a claim would be the latest SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) used to attempt to silence environmental, climate and public interest protestors. The prosecution of 20 activists by Gunns (The Gunns 20) is the best known SLAPP case in Australia, which ultimately failed. (See Sourcewatch - SLAPP's in Australia)
Xstrata PLC is the largest exporter of thermal coal, and recently reported that first half profit has tripled this year due to metal and coking coal prices increases. Net income rose to $2.3 billion from $690 million a year before, according to a Bloomberg report in August. Similarly, Rio Tinto has recorded a record first half net profit of $5.85 billion based upon rising prices for iron ore and coal, compared with $1.62 billion profit in the first half of 2009 according to a Marketwatch report.
The Newcastle coal port protest shutdown coal loading for much of Sunday. The protest started pre-dawn and involved up to 45 people. Some activists climbed onto equipment to shut down operations.
The first arrests ocurred at 9.45am at the Carrington Coal Loader where police had to cutoff two people locked onto the coal loader and taken into custody and have been charged with Enter and Remain on Enclosed Lands.
Three more arrests ocurred around 11.30am, including two climbers who had to be removed by crane and were taken into custody.
At midday 36 people who occupied coal stockpiles were arrested, but sudsequently released without charge at this stage.
At 1.30pm two climbers were removed by crane by Police Rescue Squad from the NCIG coal terminal. The final climber was removed at about 3pm. All climbers were charged with Enter and Remain on Enclosed Lands (two charges).
By 1.45pm Rising Tide were reporting that Port Waratah Coal Services "will be seaking $97,000 in 'victims compensation'".
Annika Dean, spokesperson for Rising Tide Newcastle who organised the protest said: "45 ordinary people, of all ages and all walks of life, have come together today to make a stand for the future of our planet. Around the world, the impacts of global warming are becoming worse, while the fossil fuel industries that fuel this crisis are continuing to grow unabated. We were compelled to take these actions because our political leaders are failing to take any action at all."
Rising Tide disrupted the opening of Newcastle's third coal loader in March 2010, and a week later used a protest fleet to blockade coal export from the Port.
Newcastle exports over 90 million tonnes of coal per annum (Mtpa), making it the world's biggest coal port. The industry is dominated by transnational mining corporations BHPBilliton, Xstrata, and Rio Tinto. Newcastle coal exports are expected to more than doubled to 211 Mtpa capacity with the current export expansions implemented. Planning is now underway for a fourth Newcastle coal terminal to take exports to more than 300Mtpa.
Coal exports are Australia's biggest contribution to climate change (creating more greenhouse pollution than all domestic sources combined), but the emissions from coal exports are not included in Australia's greenhouse accounts.
Sourced from Australia Indymedia: