The Hellenic Sea coal ship
At 1600 hours today we cast off our mooring lines and sailed the Rainbow Warrior across Lyttelton harbour into a position alongside the Hellenic Sea. With anchors at our stern and bow we will set ourselves in place to block it from leaving port.
A few days ago the Hellenic Sea arrived in Lyttelton and docked near the Rainbow Warrior. This thing is almost 250 meters long and makes the Warrior look like a sailing dinghy.
As with all our actions this is a peaceful engagement. We mean no harm to the crew or the vessel but we do intend on stopping it leaving port for as long as we can.
The crew have been in Lyttelton for some days now holding open days and talking to people about climate change, global warming and greenhouse gas emissions. About the need for emission reductions, the need for personal action and the need for good strong climate policy from all political parties.
So you can imagine how appalling it was to witness the port machinery come alive and begin vomiting thousands of tons of dirty old coal into the belly of the Hellenic Sea. It's been going non stop for several days now. It's a LOT of coal.
Where does it come from all that coal? Where is it going? Who can be shipping such gross amounts of fossil fuels out of New Zealand? We did a bit of digging and came up with, what can only be described as, dirt.
The dirt on coal exports
It turns out that that this coal comes from the West Coast. It's mined and shipped to Lyttelton by Solid Energy - a Government owned company. From here it is shipped offshore to places like India and Japan where it is burned in various ways but always with the same result - climate change.
There are some awful double standards at work here. At the same time as it eagerly tells us and the world how clean and green New Zealand is, the New Zealand Government is making millions of dollars from Solid Energy exporting coal.
Climate change is a serious problem and we are fast running out of time to act, yet New Zealand continues to mine, export and burn coal in gross quantities, and there are plans to expand all three activities.
In NZ we've made some good progress in addressing our emissions.
We now have a 10 year ban on new fossil fuel electricity generation, and a 90 per cent renewable energy target for 2025. Marsden B was canned. We have the beginnings of an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). There's still a long way to go, but we're getting there.
But all this is completely undermined if NZ is exporting coal in increasingly large amounts.
This is not what people expect of our Government. We had over 1000 people come through the Rainbow Warrior in Lyttelton alone. We talked to them all about climate change and it was clear that people want action. People do see the danger of not doing something to curb our greenhouse gas emissions and they are willing to act themselves but they want and expect good leadership from the Government and other political parties.
That is why we are taking action today.
I'll keep you posted as things develop.