The the bulk carrier, MV Meister, exporting coal from Australia. © Greenpeace


Greenpeace has campaigned against the expansion of coal exports from Queensland, through the Great Barrier Reef, using every legitimate means we can to stop them going ahead.

We’ve made detailed submissions, we’ve triggered Departmental inquiries, we’ve used Freedom of Information to expose holes in assessments, we’ve helped 25,000 people make submissions to processes, we’ve published full page advertisements and we’ve written large on a beach our call to protect the Reef from coal. All to no avail: the Australian government has not acted to protect the Reef and prevent the expansion of our biggest contribution to climate change.

Today Greenpeace has dramatically stepped up its campaign to stop Australia’s biggest contribution to climate change from getting any bigger, by boarding a bulk carrier filled with thermal coal, leaving Australia bound for Asia.

Plans are underway to roughly double the volume of coal exports from Australia. At the same time the big coal importing markets will increasingly be reluctant to get on board. The assumption that coal exports will provide energy access to millions in countries like India is not quite true. Within India, this debate is fast moving to decentralised Renewable Energy, as a quick and cheaper model. A sentiment echoed by the Chief Minister of India’s energy starved states, Bihar. It is also estimated that solar power will be as cheap as coal for retail purchasers in India by 2015.

The high likelihood of China’s new air pollution policies will mean an 18% drop in expected global coal trade in 2015.With up to 30% of imports reliant on China, this will drastically impact Australia. The question arises – why create and develop infrastructure that is susceptible to huge economic losses?

But the declining demand side is only one argument against Australian coal: such proposed expansion ridicules the country’s commitment to take action to limit global warming to below 2 degrees C. We’ve all seen what climate change is doing to Australia. In the past few months, Australia has suffered its "angry summer" with extreme with extreme heat, bushfires and floods across the country. Over ten thousand Australians, including the country’s most respected climate scientists and academics and over 40 non-government organisations from around the country have called for the expansion of coal to stop.

The activists are on board the bulk carrier, MV Meister, are not just Australian. Greenpeace is campaigning against the expansion of coal mining, power and exports in China, India and the United States, and the multinational team of volunteers peacefully occupying a coal shipment from Australia today are representative of a region-wide campaign to bring about the end of the age of coal.

It’s well known that most coral reefs around the world are unlikely to survive with more than 1.5 degrees of average global warming: right now, the planet is heading decisively for four degrees C of warming.

In the absence of any action being taken by the political or business leadership to tackle this problem, Greenpeace is calling for people around the world - in physically preventing the expansion of coal, through peaceful civil disobedience. If you support Greenpeace’s action, sign the statement we’ll be publishing in the Australian Financial Review here