Posted by: JohnnyRook | July 13, 2008

Australian Climaticide protesters shut down coal trains

Australian protesters from the Camp for Climate Action-Australia shut down a coal-train line for about 6 hours yesterday as part of ongoing protests against the export of coal from Newcastle’s Port Carrington Terminal.

According to the Daily Telegraph:

More than 1000 protesters shut down the Newcastle coal link yesterday before the police riot squad moved in to arrest 37 environmental activists who were fighting to stop climate change.

The protesters boarded a coal train, lay across railway tracks and chanted for the end of coal exports.

Camp for Climate Action is an international movement for direct action against global warming. This weeks protest in Newcastle are part of ongoing actions in Australia, where damage from Climaticide is already clearly visible. See the Garnaut report for more info. [The first chapter is a summary of the very large report.]

The Newcastle protests have been going on for three days now. The protesters have been attempting to block rail delivery of coal to the port, which ships huge amounts of coal to China, where a new 500-megawatt coal-fired power plant is brought online every 4 days. Click hereto see a short video (with a few Blair-witch-Project-like shots) of today’s events.

Judging from the following quote, the Newcastle police are taking the protesters actions very seriously:

Police invoked some special powers, not used in a public protest since the Cronulla riots of 2005, enabling them to search vehicles, although organisers maintained the protest was peaceful.

No sign, at least in the video above that it was anything other than peaceful.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported today that:

The demonstration marked the third time in less than a fortnight that coal industry operations near Newcastle had been disrupted by protests against the industry’s role in climate change.

The demonstration was part of an international movement of “camps for climate action”, which are designed to give people concerned about global warming a role in national debate about cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

“We have a really slim window of opportunity to act on climate change, so we need to take action,” said a spokeswoman for the protesters, Georg[ina] Woods. “The status quo is fuelling a climate disaster, and today was about highlighting the role Australian coal plays in that. It’s affecting all of the world, not just here.”

Along with the nearby Kooragang Coal Terminal, Carrington terminal sees the export of coal which generates an estimated 216 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, and a third terminal is under construction. By contrast, the total emissions from road transport in Australia is 72 million tonnes, the Australian Greenhouse Office said.

You can read an activist’s account of yesterday’s protest at It’s Getting Hot in Here, an Australian activist Climate change blog.

We should expect to see more of these sorts of protests. We need to see more of them. Time is running out on us and given the failure of our political leaders to take action, more direct action will be required if we are to avoid devastating climate change tipping points. Many climate scientists are now in agreement that Climaticide is happening faster than they originally thought. Dr. James Hansen NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies says we have one year to take action, specifically to start moving away from use of coal, if we want to avoid those tipping points.

The video below shows another Climate Camp protest at the port of Newcastle a few months ago.

[crossposted at Daily Kos]

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