As UN climate talks in Bangkok progress at snail’s pace, Greenpeace takes action against fossil fuel developments in Canada and the Arctic

Press release - 5 October, 2009
UN climate talks in Bangkok today limp into their second week with little prospect of reaching a climate saving deal in Copenhagen later this year without serious action from the rich countries. Meanwhile, Greenpeace activists have taken action against unconstrained fossil fuel developments and are calling on world leaders to take charge and save the climate.

After days of blockade and protest, today Greenpeace activists protest the departure of a 70,000 tonne coal transport ship, the MV Pascha, from Svalbard some 1,400 km from the North Pole.

At the same time, in Alberta, Canada, 21 Greenpeace activists have been arrested for occupying four stacks at the expansion site of a Shell tar sands processing facility, part of a series of actions in recent weeks to highlight the tar sands climate crime.

Only 62 days remain to the start of the UN Copenhagen Climate summit and only 10 official negotiating days. "Time is running out for reaching a fair, ambitious and binding deal to avert a climate catastrophe. Time is running out for the billions of people whose future depends on it," said Martin Kaiser, Greenpeace climate policy director.

"While the diplomats continue to fumble their way through the talks and world leaders continue to watch from the sidelines, the fossil fuel industry is planning its future. A future that will drive up global temperatures causing mass migration, mass starvation and mass extinction. The time to take action is now."

The world's addiction to fossil fuels has dramatically increased coal mining activities in Svalbard to fuel European coal plants. "The arctic is the canary in the climate coal mine (1). It is clear this Arctic mine needs to close and the world needs to quit coal," said Martin Norman, Greenpeace campaigner. "It is inconceivable that at a time when it is clear we need to stop burning coal there are plans afoot to open a new coal mine in the Arctic." (2).

That same addiction has pushed oil companies into the boreal forests of northern Canada in a destructive and suicidal drive to develop the world's dirtiest transport fuel - the tar sands (3).

"Plans for further development, driven by European and US oil companies and aimed at US markets, mean that the tar sands could emit between 127 and 140 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year by 2020, more than the annual emissions of Denmark." said Paul Horsman, Greenpeace Campaigner.

Coal and oil developments - and the climate talks - continue as if there is no clear and present danger from climate change. Both protests are sending a Climate SOS to world leaders, calling on them to take personal responsibility to save the climate at the crucial UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen in December (4).

From Bangkok, Kaiser added: "The developing world is willing to move ahead - yet the rich countries, in particular the US, continue to block all progress. They need to provide financing for developing country climate action and agree stronger emission reduction targets. The US also appear to want to negotiate everybody else's greenhouse gas reduction targets except their own."

Other contacts: Martin Norman, Greenpeace Nordic Climate and Energy campaigner, on board the Arctic Sunrise: +47 9580 4950

Szabina Mozes, Greenpeace International Communications, Svalbard, + 43 664 61 26725

Cindy Baxter, Greenpeace International Communications in Bangkok: +66 8 2334 3915/ +31 646 197 332

Paul Horsman, Greenpeace International, in Alberta, +1 780 972 1328

VVPR info: John Novis, Greenpeace International Head of Photography (in Beijing) +86 139 1062 4914 / +44 7801 615 889

Michael Nagasaka, Greenpeace International Video Producer, +44 7533 625 409

Notes: (1) The Greenpeace vessel, Arctic Sunrise, has just completed a three-month expedition examining the impacts of climate change in the Arctic. The ship hosted independent science teams whose research will help explain why Arctic sea-ice and Greenland’s glaciers are melting even faster than climate models predicted. Specifically, scientists examined the complex interaction between ocean temperatures and glacial melt in northwest, southeast and northeast Greenland, and the melt rate of pressure ridges, a feature of Arctic sea-ice that is fast disappearing due to climate change.

(2) The world can do without coal. The Greenpeace energy revolution scenario shows how our societies can be powered without coal, using clean energy sources like wind and solar instead. We can and must be smarter with energy and use it in a more efficient way. Last month Greenpeace calculated that its energy revolution scenario is actually a green new deal. It will create 2.7 million more jobs world wide by 2030 than the business as usual scenarios based on fossil fuels.

(3) The Canadian tar sands cover an area larger than England. Developing them has created the largest industrial development project, and one of the biggest climate crimes on the planet.

(4) At Copenhagen Greenpeace demands a fair, binding and ambitious deal including:

• Emission cuts of at least 40% by 2020 (at 1990 levels) from the developed world

• An end to tropical deforestation by 2020

• US$140 billion a year from industrialised countries to support adaption, mitigation and forest protection in the developing world