Java, Indonesia – Greenpeace Indonesia activists today intercepted a coal barge passing through the Karimunjawa archipelago, painting it with the messages ‘Break Free From Coal’ and ‘Coral Not Coal’. The action was to protest the damage being done to coral reefs in the area and the long-term impacts of climate change.
“This coal trade is destroying one of the most beautiful areas of Indonesia and one that the government has promised to protect as a national park. Yet a reef check shows that where the barges have hit the coral, 50% of the lifeforms are dead,” said Didit Haryo, Climate and Energy Campaigner from Greenpeace Indonesia.
The Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior, then followed the coal barge out of the national park.
The barge was targeted as it carried coal from mines in Kalimantan to power plants in Java, Indonesia, in a peaceful protest which is part of the global Break Free wave of actions against fossil fuels.
In early 2017, hundreds of square meters of coral in the area were destroyed by five barges taking shelter during storms. 
Karimunjawa archipelago is a national park containing coral reefs, seagrass, mangroves, coastal forests and lowland tropical rain forest. It is home to three types of turtle and nearly 400 species of marine fauna, including hundreds of ornamental fish, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Indonesia.
But the beauty of the area and the livelihoods of those working in the local fishing and tourism industries are threatened by the coal barges that regularly criss-cross it.
“It’s not just the coral reefs paying the price, local fishermen are also affected. If the coral is destroyed, the tourist industry will be impacted too. Our home, community and livelihoods are being impacted by coal, but we don’t feel as though we have a voice in the energy debate,” said Yarhannudin, from local community-led group, Akar.
On 6 May, one of the world’s largest coal industry events is taking place in Bali, Indonesia, only a short flight away from these impacted communities.
New data released today from the World Health Organization showed that South East Asia has some of the highest ambient air pollution levels in the world. According to Global Burden of Disease, ambient air pollution was responsible for 17,600 premature deaths every two days in Asia in 2015, or 440 deaths every 2 days in Indonesia. 
“These barges are part of a pernicious industry which is ruining Indonesia’s natural beauty and polluting our air. The health of Indonesian people is at risk and meanwhile the coal industry is meeting in Bali to make deals that secure its own future. This country doesn’t deserve a future built on coal, it’s time the government choose people over fossil fuels and urgently transition to renewables,” said Didit Haryo.
The Break Free movement is a wave of individuals, communities, local and international organisations demanding a fair shift to a new era of renewable energy, and a world free from fossil fuels.
- Barges destroy coral in Karimunjawa – Jakarta Post
- Result from the reef check
- Sourced from the Global Health Data Exchange, here.
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