E.ON’s coal construction brought to a full stop

Feature story - 15 November, 2008
Supported by the Rainbow Warrior, a hundred of our volunteer activists occupied the construction site of the new E.ON coal fired power plant in Rotterdam. They halted construction for 10 hours before they were all arrested by police. Special police cut their chains and neck locks and removed everyone from the site by the end of the day.

Action on the Maasvlakte: activists plant 18 flags, one for each nationality at the camp

E.ON is ignoring all science around climate change by insisting on plans to construct eight new European coal fired power plants. The plant in Rotterdam is intended to be the first, even though it has not yet been granted the necessary permits. The previous evening the activists put up tents, next to the building site, to bear witness to the unfolding climate disaster. Then at first light they moved onto the site, paralysing the construction of the plant.

"Civil disobedience, like occupying a building site, is completely justified when compared to the impact on the climate of a new coal plant. The consequences for the climate from this coal plant would be so dramatic, that urgent action is needed now.", said Meike Baretta, Head of Climate and Energy campaign Greenpeace Netherlands.

Coal, the most polluting of all fossil fuels, is responsible for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Coal-fired power stations undermine European targets to cut emissions by 30 percent by 2020. E-ON has so far remained silent, despite Greenpeace's request that it commits to reducing its CO2 emissions.

Resistance is justified

Support for radical action is growing.  A British Crown Court jury acquitted six Greenpeace activists on charges of criminal damage after they scaled the chimney of E.ONs coal plant in Kingsnorth. The jury decided that shutting down the coal plant was justified in the context of the damage to property caused around the world by CO2 emissions from Kingsnorth. NASA's top climate scientist, James Hansen, spoke in their defence and former Vice-President of the United States Al Gore has urged civil disobedience to stop the construction of new coal fired power plants.

This is not the first time Greenpeace has clashed with E.ON in the last month we have

Taking on coal right around the globe

The actions in Rotterdam are part of Greenpeace's global Quit Coal Campaign. The Greenpeace flagship, Rainbow Warrior, is engaged in a ten-month "Quit Coal" expedition, which started in March in New Zealand and is currently in Europe. Further a Climate Rescue Station has been established on the edge of a vast coal mine in Poland, in the run-up to crucial UN climate negotiations in Poznan, Poland, this December.

As the  European campaign against coal unfolds we've had good news from the United States. A ruling of the US Environmental Protection Agency's Board of Appeals that any new coal fired power plant must include the best available technology to restrict CO2 emissions: creating a legal limbo which is in effect a moratorium on new coal power in the United States. That's between 30 and 100 coal fired power plants which won't be able to start operations till the issue is resolved, and an opportunity for the new US government to Quit Coal on day one by imposing tough emission standards.

Quitting coal is essential to a meaningful deal to save the climate. European governments must show leadership by phasing-out coal in their own countries. Greenpeace's Energy [R]evolution shows how renewable energy, combined with greater energy efficiency, can cut global CO2 emissions by 50 percent and deliver half the world's energy needs by 2050.

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