Indian girl joins Obama on coal satyagraha on top of the world

Press release - October 2, 2009
In a dramatic turn of events, Mumbai girl Faye Lewis today helped a host of world leaders block coal shipment in the Arctic, in a Gandhian bit of decisive action for clean energy.


Joris Thijssen

Climate & Energy Campaigner

Greenpeace International

00 31 646 162031

Szabina Mozes

Communications Manager

Greenpeace International

00 43 664 61 26725

  • Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and other world leaders took the plunge on climate change by preventing a shipment of coal from being loaded onto a transport ship from a mine in Svalbard, 1400 km from the North Pole. The activist heads of state unfurled a banner reading 'Coal-fired Arctic meltdown'.
  • Making all this happen, as part of a group of Greenpeace volunteers, was Faye Lewis, working as a deckhand on the ship. Lewis has a Bachelor's Degree in History and Sociology from Mumbai's St. Xavier's College and has been on board Greenpeace ships since 2003.
  • The action is being taken to prevent the 70,000 tonne coal transport ship MV Pascha from bringing its climate-changing cargo to Europe. The activists are underlining their personal commitment to securing a fair, ambitious and binding agreement in Copenhagen in December.
  • The Greenpeace vessel, Arctic Sunrise, has just completed a three-month expedition examining the impacts of climate change in the Arctic. 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.
  • Coal burning is the greatest threat to our climate, accounting for over 40% of all fossil fuel related CO2 emissions, making it the largest single source. CO2 pollution by coal is projected to increase 60% by 2030. Greenpeace is calling for an energy revolution to phase out coal fired power plants by 2050.
  • The Svea Nord mine in Svalbard produces more than 2 million tonnes of coal annually, which is exported to Germany, France, Denmark, the Netherlands and Portugal. It is operated by Norwegian state owned company Store Norske, which is already planning to open yet another coal mine in the same area as the current mine is running out of coal. The Norwegian Parliament will decide on this proposal during 2010.
  • Greenpeace is calling on the Norwegian government to phase out the mining of coal on Svalbard and provide a just transition for the workforce.
  • In 66 days, the countries of the world will come together to negotiate a new climate treaty. The world needs them to take real action by personally committing to attending the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen, and to delivering a fair, ambitious and binding deal to avert catastrophic climate change.

Quotes and Related Information

 1. On site, President Barack Obama said "Can we quit coal? Yes we can. I and my colleagues are fired up and ready to go to Copenhagen, where we're going to help the world kick its carbon habit for good."

 2. "I'm putting my body on the line to stop climate change," added Chancellor Angela Merkel. "The least my fellow leaders can do now is put money on the table to unlock negotiations for a deal in Copenhagen."

 3. "The Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than anyone expected," said Lindsay Keenan, Greenpeace Nordic climate campaigner. "Now is the time to take action. Sea-level rise will impact the homes of at least one in ten people on the planet this century. This coal-fired madness has to stop."

 4. The activists are supporting Greenpeace's call for a commitment of $140bn a year from developed nations to fund adaption, mitigation and forest protection measures in developing nations.

 5. 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.

 6. At Copenhagen Greenpeace demands a fair, binding and ambitious deal that:-

  • Emissions cuts of at least 40% by 2020 from the developed world
  • An end to tropical deforestation by 2015
  • $140 billion a year to support adaption, mitigation and forest protection in the developing world

For Photos & Videos

Abhijay Gupta

Media Officer

Greenpeace India

+91 90082 66229

John Novis

Head of Photography

Greenpeace International

+86 139 1062 4914

or 44 (0) 7801 615 889

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About Us

Greenpeace is an independent organisation with presence in over 40 countries that acts to protect the environment and promote peace by changing attitudes and behaviour. Greenpeace India is funded by individual Indian donors.