Greenpeace activists boarded a coal ship heading out of Australian waters in an effort to curb coal exports.
Using inflatable boats from Greenpeace’s ship the Rainbow Warrior, six activists boarded the Korean-owned coal ship MV Meister at dawn on Wednesday and presented a letter to the ship’s captain explaining why they were there. The activists set up camp on the ship’s bow.
“Our leaders are failing us so it’s up to us to take civil disobedience and to slow down and stop these coal ships. We are set to stay here as long as it takes,” she added.
“We are calling on the rest of Australia to take whatever action is possible to ensure that we do not double our coal exports. We cannot deal with the climate change that will result from that,” said a Greenpeace spokesman on the Rainbow Warrior.
What the Greenpeace people are engaged in is nothing but a criminal activity, that should be dealt with accordingly. It goes without saying that people unlawfully boarding a ship and setting up camp on it should be arrested and prosecuted.
And, as economists Sinclair Davidson and Ashton de Silva point out in an article in The Australian, the meddling by Greenpeace and people like American anti-coal activist Bill McKibben in the Australian coal economy could have a massive negative impact in Australia:
The new Rainbow Warrior is on an Australian tour campaigning against the coal industry and its "reckless" expansion. Writing in these pages Greenpeace activist David Ritter would have us believe that Australia faces a stark choice between coalmining and tourism or agriculture.
Mining creates upstream and downstream economic activity. Mining itself generated about 11.5 per cent of gross value added in 2011-12 and the spillovers created another 6.5 per cent of economic activity. So nearly one-fifth of our economy is reliant on mining. But the Reserve Bank looked only at the supply side of the economy. When you add the demand side, mining makes up nearly a quarter of our economy. We shouldn't give that up lightly.
Using the same method as the Reserve Bank we estimated the size of the coal economy -- coalmining plus the spillovers from coal into the broader economy -- to be about 3.1 per cent of gross value added in 2011-12, about $43 billion. Including the demand side, that increases to 4.2 per cent of gross value added, and nearly $60bn. The coal economy provides 181,000 jobs. For every coalmining job 3.7 jobs are created in the broader economy.
It is highly likely that the benefits and spillovers of those jobs are concentrated in the coal-mining states of NSW, Queensland and Victoria. . The challenge for critics of the coal industry is to articulate alternative economic activity for those engaged in mining and mining-related activity, which can be as diverse as construction services and wholesale trade.
Most important, coal keeps our electricity generators going. Phasing out coalmining means turning off the lights, while phasing out coal exports means turning off other people's lights and economic growth.
That is probably not the message Greenpeace wishes to promote but it highlights the paucity of its argument.
Australian coal doesn't just benefit the Australian economy, it benefits the world economy. Despite that, the Australian coalmining industry recently was labelled a "rogue industry" that must be phased out by American anti-coal activist Bill McKibben from non-governmental organisation 350.org who is coming to Australia in June to campaign against coal exports.
The consequences of ill-informed meddling in the coal economy would have a massive negative impact in Australia, especially in the most populous states along the east coast.
Foreigners coming to Australia to campaign against our national economy can do a lot of damage if their claims go unchallenged. So too will "uncivil" disobedience campaigns designed to sabotage local economies and cause property destruction. Coalmining and exports provide benefits to Australia and the world well beyond mining itself.