Greenpeace blockades Australian coal-fired power station

Feature story - July 4, 2008
Greenpeace activists, including an ex-miner from the Hunter Valley, blockaded Australia's most polluting coal-fired power station to call for an Energy [R]evolution. Entering the plant in the early hours of the morning, 16 activists were able to lock themselves to the conveyors that distribute the coal.

Activistas de Greenpeace, incluyendo un ex minero, se colocan sobre los transportadores de carbón de la central eléctrica más grande de carbón de Australia, Eraring, una planta vieja e ineficaz, que envía casi 20 millones de toneladas de contaminación de invernadero en la atmósfera cada año

ERARING, NSW AUSTRALIA, 22 December 2004. Eraring Power Station imbetween Newcastle and Sydney. This power station utilises coal in a process that has a major contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

Activist inside Eraring Power Station.

Activists heading towards Eraring Power Station early this morning.

5.30am, 3 July, 2008: Police arrive on the scene where activists were locked on to a conveyor for six hours. By locking onto this feed conveyor, we stopped coal entering the power station.

An activist climbs down a ladder in a stairwell above the coal stockpile.

5.10am: Activists wait outside the plant.

First light, 3 July, 2008: Activists prepare to enter Eraring Power Station. This old, dirty coal-fired power station sends nearly 20 million tonnes of greenhouse pollution into the atmosphere every year. Each hour we blockaded the coal supply, we prevented 2000 tonnes of CO2 being released.

5.15am, 3 July, 2008: Activists enter the power station conveyor area.

5am, 3 July 2008: Greenpeace activists locked on to the coal conveyor at Eraring Power Station in NSW's Hunter Valley.

By the time the last activists had been removed from the site, coal supply had been halted for about five hours - for every hour supply was stopped, we prevented 2000 tonnes of CO2 from being released.

Now it's Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd's turn to act on climate change and energy. Greenpeace's Australian supporters are being asked to sign a petition urging Rudd to commit to phasing out dirty coal and building a clean, safe and reliable energy future for Australia.

Why Eraring power station?

Greenpeace Australia-Pacific's climate and energy campaigner, Simon Roz, explains.

We have to stop fuelling climate change when creating electricity. Eraring is old and inefficient - it's Australia's dirtiest coal-fired power plant, sending nearly 20 million tonnes of greenhouse pollution into the atmosphere every year. It's one of the eight coal-fired power stations in New South Wales responsible for half the state's and 13% of Australia's greenhouse pollution."

Among the activists blockading the coal conveyor was Graham Brown, a retired Hunter Valley coal miner. He said, "I feel very strongly that we must start making the transition from coal-power to renewable energy. Coal communities have been taken advantage of by coal companies and governments. Renewable energy is the future, and it's bright. Workers must be retrained and re-skilled so that they don't miss out."

"Renewable technology is already there, we don't have to wait 20 years for it - but we need a transition mechanism in place."

The action came in advance of Australian government's climate change advisor, Professor Ross Garnaut, delivering his draft review on climate change. Any urgent action to be taken on climate change must include policies that support renewables to replace dirty coal-fired power.

As Simon Roz says, "Renewable energy can replace coal-fired power and would be a huge step forward in reducing emissions in line with Professor Garnaut's recommendations."

The Energy [R]evolution

Australia is just the latest of many countries, including New Zealand, in which Greenpeace has released national Energy [R]evolution reports showing how renewables combined with energy efficiency, can provide all of that country's energy needs.

Greenpeace NZ released its global Energy [R]evolution scenario in Feb 2007. The scenario shows how renewables can replace coal by 2030.


Why just surf when you can make waves? Subscribe to the Greenpeace online activist mailouts


Make a donation to Greenpeace