New Zealand coal shipment blockaded

Feature story - March 25, 2008
Today the Rainbow Warrior blocked a shipment of export coal from leaving the Port of Lyttelton, New Zealand.

Activists alongside the Rainbow Warrior block the coal ship 'Hellenic Sea' from leaving Port.

For several hours today, the Rainbow Warrior blocked a shipment of export coal from leaving the Port of Lyttelton, New Zealand.  

Just as the coal ship - Hellenic Sea - was due to depart, the captain of the Rainbow Warrior moved our ship into position and set two anchors - effectively blocking the larger ship in.

Police arrived quickly and boarded the Rainbow Warrior, but three activists managed to slip over the side into a waiting boat and speed over to the Helenic Sea. Once there they climbed onto the hull, attached themselves to the ship and deployed a banner reading: Target Climate Change.

Double standards

When fully loaded the Hellenic Sea would carry up to 60 thousand tonnes of export coal mined on the West Coast by state owned enterprise Solid Energy.

At the same time as the New Zealand Government is so eagerly trying to show the world that it is serious about addressing climate change, it is allowing Solid Energy to proceed with an aggressive expansion of both coal mining and exportation.

While it trades on New Zealand's clean green credentials the country's Government is making millions of dollars from Solid Energy peddling coal on the world market - quite literally stoking the fires of climate change.

The New Zealand Government has put some commendable climate policies in place, such as a renewable electricity target, but the good of this is undone if we're still making millions of dollars exporting the problem to others.

What's the harm?

Also today, Greenpeace India published a report showing 125 million people in India and Bangladesh alone could be displaced if global temperatures rise between 4-5°C.

The report was commissioned by Greenpeace and co-authored by Dr. Sudhir Chella Rajan, professor of Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT Madras. Effects of climate change in the region are expected to include rising sea levels, droughts associated with shrinking water supplies and changes to the monsoon season.

"This is a reality in my lifetime. I don't want to see the day I lose my home to the sea, and saline deserts where people have live without clean water," said Mohon Kumar Mondol, executive director of the Bangladesh organization LEDARS. "It can be prevented and we are the last generation that can stop it, governments across the world have no choice but to stop this nightmare from becoming reality."

In a week, world governments will meet in Bangkok, Thailand, for another round of climate change talks.

Ship blog

More updates from the scene.

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