Australian activists "symbolically" block one of the largest coal export facilities in the world, area police said. Photo courtesy of the Australian branch of 350.org
SYDNEY, May 9 (UPI) -- Activists said they made a stand against the fossil fuels industry in Australia by blocking the delivery of coal from one of the world's largest ports.
Participants took to kayaks to block coal shipments from leaving the port of Newcastle, the largest coal export facility in Australia.
Zane Sikulu, a regional advocacy leader from the group 350.org, said the Australian government is putting support behind an industry associated with climate change and threats to the regional ecosystem.
"Climate change is a threat to the lives, culture and land of the Pacific people," he said in a statement. "We will not sit by as countries across the world continue to invest in the expansion of the industry that is contributing so much to the destruction of our homes."
Police in New South Wales said about 200 kayaks "symbolically" blocked the port as part of protest staged by around 1,500 activists. In total, 66 people were arrested, including 57 who occupied a rail bridge to block coal trains.
"Police respect the right to protest but unfortunately some demonstrators set out to flout the law and put themselves and others at risk," the authority said in a statement.
Last year, utility company Genesis Energy said it's on pace to shut down its last two coal-fired power plants by December 2018, effectively marking the end of coal power in New Zealand. Genesis Chief Executive Officer Albert Brantley said the development of lower cost renewable options, "principally wind and geothermal," coupled with low demand, spells the end to coal.
At the time, New Zealand Energy Minister Simon Bridges said a "coal backstop" is no longer necessary for the nation's electricity supply as more renewable resources like geothermal energy come online.