Environmental activists said they occupied part of Australia’s northernmost coal export terminal on Tuesday in a stunt directed at a nearby meeting of Pacific island leaders on climate change.
Greenpeace said a group of its protesters climbed atop Xstrata Coal’s Abbot Point terminal, in northern Queensland state, to unfurl a banner calling for decisive action on emissions cuts.
“Greenpeace activists have occupied Abbott Point coal export terminal in Queensland to demand (Australian Prime Minister) Kevin Rudd stops risking the future of Pacific Islands by undermining real action on climate change and expanding Australia?s coal industry,” said Greenpeace spokesman Abram Powell.
“The action was launched from aboard the Greenpeace vessel the Esperanza, which is currently stationed just metres from the coal export terminal,” he added.
The action came as the leaders of seven tiny Pacific island states called for developed countries to slash their emissions, ahead of a broader summit of Pacific leaders.
They included some of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, including the atoll archipelagos of Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands, which include land just two to three metres (six to nine feet) above sea level.
The leaders supported the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), a global grouping, which has called for 45 percent cuts below 1990 levels in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and 85 percent cuts worldwide by 2050.
Xstrata, which is the world’s largest exporter of power station coal, said the protesters were unable to unroll their banner due to high winds, and retreated to their ship without disruption to the terminal’s operations.
No arrests were made, police said.
An Oxfam report last week said by the year 2050, about 75 million people could be forced to leave their homes due to climate change in the Asia-Pacific region.
Unless wealthy, developed countries like Australia and New Zealand take urgent action to curb emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, some island nations in the Pacific could become uninhabitable, Oxfam said.