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SYDNEY – A climate change protest off the coast of Australia’s New South Wales State disrupted operations at the country’s biggest coal export port on Saturday (Nov 25), the port operator said.
Climate activist group Rising Tide, which claimed responsibility for the action, said more than 200 protesters were in the shipping channel near the Port of Newcastle, as part of a 30-hour blockade set to run until 4pm Sunday.
The Port of Newcastle, some 170km from the state capital Sydney, is the largest bulk shipping port on Australia’s east coast and the nation’s largest terminal for coal exports, according to the New South Wales government.
“At present, due to the number of people currently in the shipping channel, all shipping movements have ceased due to safety concerns, irrespective of the cargo they are carrying or intend to load,” a Port of Newcastle spokesperson said in a statement.
Rising Tide spokesperson Zack Schofield said no coal shipments had entered or exited the port since 10am Saturday.
“So far it’s holding true,” he said of the blockade comprised of a flotilla of kayaks by the group, which carried out an unlawful protest near the same port in April when 50 activists were charged by police.
State police said no arrests had been made in relation to the protest under way near the port on Saturday.
Climate change is a divisive issue in Australia, the world’s second-biggest exporter of thermal coal behind Indonesia, and the top exporter of coking coal, used to make steel.
The centre-left Labour government does not support a ban on all new fossil fuel projects, but sees “safeguard mechanism” reforms as key to cutting emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 in a country that ranks as a leading global carbon emitter per capita.
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