New Zealand’s coal industry is a mess of contradictions. We worry about carbon emissions and Kyoto while State-owned Solid Energy exports coal to dirty Chinese factories. Rather than being energy-efficiently shipped out of Greymouth, coal from the West Coast is taken by rail over the Southern Alps because taxpayer-subsidised Toll gives SOE Solid Energy and Pike River a cut-price deal to haul the coal to Lyttelton for export. Meanwhile, we are importing coal from Indonesia for Huntly.
Greenpeace did a great job yesterday of highlighting the stupidity of these arrangements and the government’s lack of commitment on climate change by blockading the Hellenic Sea with its load of Solid energy coal (bound for France of all places) in Lyttelton harbour. Their blog account of the protest is here .
Unfortunately, that story has been tarnished by reports that while 30 Police officers were diverted from Christchurch to arrest the Greenpeace activists, a single officer received minor injuries trying to break up a brawl in the city. It is unfair to blame Greenpeace for this incident. Yes, they broke the law but the Police overreacted by sending so many officers to what they knew would be a peaceful protest. There were only six arrests, which were not resisted, and the only charges were obstruction and unlawfully getting onto a boat.
The coal industry, the Government, and the Police should review their policies in the wake of this protest action. Keep up the good work, Greenpeace.