Coal, the most climate polluting of all fossil fuels. Four years ago New Zealand was poised to develop new coal fired power generation. Greenpeace didn’t agree nor did the residents of Ruakaka, a seaside town in Northland. Mighty River Power had proposed to re-fire Marsden B on coal. This would have been New Zealand’s first major coal fire power station in over 25 years. It would have pumped millions of tones of carbon into the atmosphere and polluted the pristine waters of Bream Bay.
Rainbow Warrior Block
Protest actions, community campaigning, court hearings and government pressure worked together and stopped the proposal. Recently the Labor led government in the Green Party banned new fossil fuel electricity generation for the next ten years. Greenpeace’s attention didn’t move to Huntley, New Zealand’s biggest coal fire power station. Earlier in 2007, Greenpeace released a report that showed how New Zealand could achieve a 100% renewable electricity supply by 2025. On the day of the report release we took action to show coal belongs in the ground and not in our atmosphere and that Huntley urgently needs to be phased out.
The recent government announcement that 90% of our power will be generated from clean renewable energy sources by 2025 shows they’re well on their way to Greenpeace’s target of a 100% renewable electricity supply. On the surface it sounds great but dig a little deeper and what the government say they are doing on climate change and what they are actually achieving are two very different things. So Greenpeace recently set off with the Rainbow Warrior to Target Climate Change and show what was missing in the government’s policy.
We are here in Lyttelton today half way through the national Target Climate Change tour. We have had thousands of people on the ship from Auckland, Gisborne and Lyttelton learning about climate change, what it means for New Zealand and how they can be a part of taking action to solve climate change. We are out and about on this tour cause there has been a feeling in New Zealand like climate change has been solved. This is far from the truth. It’s still a really major issue. And in fact things are getting worse here. So we have been talking to people and politicians and showing that we all need to play our part in reducing our emission. The key way to do this is to actually put on place a target so we can guarantee our emissions start coming down.
For New Zealand to play its part in avoiding the worst impact on climate change, we need to reduce or emissions by 30% by 2020.
Lyttelton also happens to be the largest coal export port in the country. And at time when we should be doing everything we can to reduce our emissions and solve climate change, there are actually plans for New Zealand expand the mining, burning and export coal, one of the worst fossil fuels.
On our last day in Lyttelton with the Rainbow Warrior, and blocked a 60000 ton shipment of export coal bound for Europe. Hours before the coal ship the Hellenic Sea was due to part, the New Zealand captain of the Rainbow Warrior moved the Greenpeace flagship into position and set two anchors effectively blocking the larger coal ship from leaving port. This was the first time the Rainbow Warrior had ever been used to block another ship in New Zealand Police arrived and quickly and boarded the rainbow warrior.
The three activists managed to slip over the side into a waiting inflatable boat and speed over to the Hellenic Sea. Once there, they climbed on to the plow and attached themselves to the ship and deployed the banner reading Target Climate Change. A few hours later the Rainbow Warrior was boarded by Police and moved using tug boats. The three activists on the side of the coal ship were hosed down with high-pressure hoses by the crew and then removed by police. Several hours later, the coal ship managed to leave the port. But the Greenpeace had made its point. And brought widespread attention to the double standards at play with climate policy in New Zealand. The New Zealand government must get serious on climate change and the Greenpeace will continue to show the New Zealanders the urgency of acting to reduce our emissions. The next stops on the Rainbow Warrior Target Climate Change tour are Dunedin and Wellington. With free public tours, political meetings and Greenpeace supporter events will be held as we continue to lace the urgency of acting on climate change.