NSW Premier Morris Iemma has been confronted by climate change activists at the foot of of the world's biggest coal port this morning, about the Government's plans to double coal exports from Newcastle - massively increasing the state's contribution to global climate change. The Premier is campaigning in the NSW State Election to be held on 24 March.
The Premier's security team took to a group of climate change activists this morning during his visit to a Newcastle factory. The Premier was in his car being driven into Downer EDI to inspect new rail carriages being built by the company.
Several protesters, from climate action group, Rising Tide (http://risingtide.org.au) concerned over massive coal expansion in the region, jumped onto the Premier's' car.
Protesters were violently crash-tackled to the ground and put into headlock by the Premier's security team.
As the Premier's car arrived at the EDI rail sheds this morning, next to the Kooragang Coal Terminal, 9 climate change activists from Rising Tide Newcastle stood in front of the Premier's car, attempting to engage him about his government's plans to double Newcastle coal exports.
The Premier's vehicle drove through the demonstrators, tearing a large banner.
A spokesperson for the protesters, Georgina Woods, said "Newcastle coal exports are this state's biggest contribution to global climate change, producing more greenhouse pollution than every other activity in this state combined. If the Iemma government was serious about climate change, they would be developing a plan for Newcastle to move away from the coal industry. Instead, the Iemma Government is currently doubling Newcastle coal exports."
The demonstators rejected the Premier's claims that he was attacked. "At no stage did we attempt to grab or touch the Premier in any way. We simply wanted to get as close to him as possible to attempt to engage him on the issue of coal exports. Morris Iemma can no longer ignore this issue."
Ms Woods said the people were not trying to hurt the Premier. "We were just trying to get our point across that we can't afford to increase Newcastle's coal exports any further," she said. "We do feel really strongly about this issue and we were trying very hard to get the Premier's attention and he was totally ignoring us, but nobody was trying to attack anyone. All we needed to do was to make our point."
Rising Tide Newcastle has hit out at the Labor party for what it says is misleading and cowardly greenhouse emissions policy that will condemn NSW to accelerated climate change. Rising Tide say NSW is directly responsible for 150 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent entering the atmosphere every year. Carbon dioxide released from exported NSW coal which is burnt overseas, comes to an additional 220 million tonnes per year. Neither figure shows any indication of falling in the foreseeable future.
Rising Tide say: "The trajectory NSW is following is going to devastate the ecology of this state. The Labor Government’s plan does not cut emissions by anywhere near the degree necessary to avoid a 2ºC warming scenario, which will lead to nearly 80% loss in coral reef systems globally and an up to 70 per increase in forest fires in the coming decades..."
"The Labor Government is living in a fantasy land when it comes to climate change..." Currently Newcastle exports over 80 million tonnes of coal per year. Recent extensions have lifted capacity to over 100 million tonnes per year. Two separate projects are also awaiting decisions from the NSW Government - the proposed expansion of the Kooragang Coal Terminal, and the proposed construction of a new Coal Export Terminal next door, Rising Tide say in a communique.
Together, these two projects would lift the coal export capacity of Newcastle to 211 million tonnes per year. At that level, the greenhouse emissions from Newcastle coal exports would rival the emissions from every single source within Australia's borders - every coal plant, every steel mill, every vehicle, every land clearing operation...
Recently a satirical website created by Rising Tide Newcastle was shut down by powerful coal industry lobby group, the NSW Minerals Council, before being relocated offshore. SEE: http://www.miningnsw.com.au/
In February, members of the environmental action group Rising Tide Newcastle built a plywood and 44-gallon drum obstacle to block the doors of NSW Labor's Sydney office. The activists placed a large wooden sign across the entrance of the ninth-floor offices of the NSW ALP shortly before 9am. One member locked herself to the barrier with a large metal bicycle lock. Police were called to the building shortly after 9am and, after negotiations, 10 of the 12 activists left the building voluntarily at 10.10am. Police cut the lock from Dean's neck and arrests were made.
* Security scuffles with protesters as Iemma tours factory - ABC
* Labor party policy is condemning NSW to catastrophe - Rising Tide
* PERTH INDYMEDIA: Coal lobby censors climate change website
* Two arrests in coal protest - News Ltd: Feb 27, 07
* Iemma confronted over coal exports and climate change - RISING TIDE NSW
* See photos and full report: http://risingtide.org.au/node/414