Volunteering in Rotterdam

As this beautiful city turned into a white winter wonderland this afternoon, the Arctic Sunrise departed for the UK. She's been here in the Netherlands since before Christmas. First of all she had some maintenance and painting done and she's looking really good now. Then she was used for a tour of the Netherlands for the Dutch climate campaign that included a very exciting action in Amsterdam.

I had the pleasure of volunteering on board for several days during this tour when the ship was in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. The ship went to several towns/ cities on the coast to raise awareness about climate change and hold showings of Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth. I assisted with setting things up for the movie, giving ship tours to the public and advertising our events in Rotterdam. It was great to get out of the office and out of Amsterdam for a few days, be around fresh faces and do something different. I had a blast and took lots of pictures that you can see here.

When we got back to Amsterdam at the end of January we did an action against CO2 emissions from coal. Here's a report on that action from Gavin Edwards (the head of the climate and energy unit at Greenpeace International).

Our target was a 170m long ship that was busy unloading coal into a giant import facility on the edge of Amsterdam. Over 30 activists slipped into the facility via inflatables at 11am yesterday morning, backed up by the MV Arctic Sunrise & the Greenpeace Netherlands boat Argus. We climbed onto three giant 40m high loading cranes, shutting them down and preventing the unloading of the ship. The view from the top of the cranes could not have been more ironic. We were perched high above a port facility covered in small mountains of coal. Conveyors took some of the coal off to the local power station, which turns one third into electricity for Amsterdam and two thirds is wasted energy. Surrounding all this was a sea of wind turbines. The past and the potential future were all there before us.

The action had an important political dimension. One of the activists successfully locked himself in one of the cranes, armed with a laptop, webcam, and enough batteries to last for days. He uploaded live video updates which were in turn broadcast on a giant screen in The Hague. On the day of the action, climate was one of the topics at the top of the Dutch political agenda.

After camping out on the cranes for 9 hours, the action ended with a stiff injunction that we had to respect, forcing us to come down. Once down, we were all sent off to jail for a few hours and then released with charges of trespass.

I was one of the crane blockers. It's the most challenging thing I have ever done for Greenpeace and the thing I am most proud of so far!

Since the ship's been in Amsterdam I've been hanging out with the crew who are all some of the best people I've ever met. It's been so lovely being able to hop on board the ship after being in the office since it helps me remember why I am sitting at a desk for hours every day. The Sunrise will be doing some really cool things in the UK so keep a look out on the GPUK website for the all news and if you get the chance to go and see her please make sure you jump on board. You wont regret it.

I miss her already.