Pacific Islanders Take on Australian Coal
Author: Suganthi Singarayar, Interpress Service, Published on: 1 November 2014
This past Friday, 30 ‘climate warriors’ from 12 Pacific Island nations paddled traditional canoes into the sea...to prevent the passage of eight of some 12 ships scheduled to move through the Newcastle port that day...The warriors hailed from a range of small island states including Fiji, Papua New Guinea (PNG), the Solomon Islands and Samoa – countries where the results of a hotter climate are painfully evident on a daily basis. “We are divided by the oceans, by the air, but we are standing on the same land and the same mother earth.” Coastline erosion, sea level rise, floods, storms, relocation of coastal communities, contamination of freshwater sources and destruction of crops and agricultural lands are only the tip of the iceberg of the hardships facing some 10 million Pacific Islanders, over 50 percent of whom reside within 1.5 km of the coastline. For these populations, the fossil fuel industry poses one of the gravest threats to their very existence. Coal production alone is responsible for 44 percent of global CO2 emissions worldwide, according to the Centre for Climate and Energy Solutions. However, none of the small island nations are responsible for this dirty industry. That responsibility lies with Australia, the fifth-largest coal producing country in the world after China, the United States, India and Indonesia. ... Maules Creek, near Boggabri in the Gunnedah basin in New South Wales (NSW), where Whitehaven Coal has a 767-million-dollar open cut coal project. There have been ongoing protests against the mine due to concerns ranging from biodiversity issues to concerns that the mine will cause a decrease in water table levels.