Activists stage climate change protest on board MV Meister, carrying export coal from Abbot Point in Queensland
Six activists from Greenpeace have boarded a coal ship leaving Australian waters in a direct action aimed at curbing coal exports.
The activists, from several different countries, boarded the Korean-owned MV Meister at 7am on Wednesday. The ship is carrying thermal coal loaded from Abbot Point in Queensland.
Speaking to the Guardian from on board the ship, 34-year-old Greenpeace activist Emma Giles said: “We’ve taken the action today because Australia is on track to almost double its coal exports in the next decade. Both major political parties have no solutions on the table. It is time to slow down the coal boom.
“Our leaders are failing us so it’s up to us to take civil disobedience and to slow down and stop these coal ships. We are set to stay here as long as it takes.”
The activists boarded the ship from inflatable boats at sunrise and had previously been on board the Rainbow Warrior, Greenpeace’s own purpose-built ship. They presented a letter to the captain explaining the action and have set up camp at the bow of the ship.
A spokesman for Greenpeace on the Rainbow Warrior said: “We are calling on the rest of Australia to take whatever action is possible to ensure that we do not double our coal exports. We cannot deal with the climate change that will result from that.”
According to research commissioned by Greenpeace, Australia’s coal export expansion is the second-largest of 14 proposed fossil fuel enterprises. “We cannot pretend Australia is playing its part to avoid dangerous climate change if these shipments continue,” said Greenpeace senior climate campaigner Dr Georgina Woods.
Greenpeace say the coal export expansion planned in Queensland will further threaten the Great Barrier Reef through dredging, coastal construction and increased shipping.
A Queensland customs and border protection spokeman said: “Border Protection Command has deployed aerial surveillance aircraft to the area and is liasing with Queensland state police in response to this incident.”
The department of climate change declined to comment.