Climate Activists Target Coal Shipments in Indonesia

Climate activists have continued their protest against coal shipments over the weekend targeting Indonesia, the world’s second biggest exporter of coal.

Namely, on Sunday, Greenpeace Indonesia activists climbed the cranes of two grab-type ship unloaders, blocking the supply of coal for the Cirebon Coal Power Plant.

The protest is part of a global wave of ‘Break Free’ actions running from 4-15 May demanding governments keep coal, oil and gas in the ground.

The activists unfurled banners saying ‘Quit Coal’ and ‘Clean Energy, Clean Air’ from both cranes supplying the coal terminal and urged the government to immediately transition towards renewable energy, Greenpeace said.

“Every new coal-fired power plant means elevated health risks for Indonesians. Lives, including those of children, are cut short due to strokes, heart attacks, lung cancer and other cardiovascular and respiratory diseases,” said Arif Fiyanto, Climate and Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace Indonesia.

“Coal has a dirty history in Indonesia ranging from land grabs, violence against local communities, polluting our air and exporting climate change to the rest of the world. The time is now for ordinary Indonesians to show the government and foreign investors in our dirty coal industry that enough is enough.”

According  to a study Greenpeace Indonesia released with Harvard University researchers last year, existing coal plants in Indonesia already cause an estimated 7,100 premature deaths per year.

If all proposed new power plants are built, the study found that they could cause the death of a further 21,200 people, due to increased risk of stroke, lung cancer, heart disease and chronic respiratory diseases, as well as deaths of young children due to increased risk of acute respiratory infections.


West Java’s Cirebon Coal Power Plant is planned to be expanded as part of a national 35,000 MW power generation capacity addition project. Under this plan, over 60% of the additional 35,000 MW will come from coal power plants, while only 20% will come from renewables. The expansion plan will be funded by JBIC (Japanese Bank for International Cooperation), “the same bank behind another controversial coal power plant at Batang”, Greenpeace said.

The first unit at the Cirebon Coal Power Plant, in operation since July 2012, exploded in September 2014 causing injury to several workers.


Just a day earlier, around 40 activists gathered across the Hudson river in kayaks with the aim of blocking crude oil shipment hub in upstate New York.

However, as reported by ABC news, the police and several U.S. Coast Guard boats herded them into a cluster that paddled past a riverfront park where a banner saying “Water not oil” was hung. Dozens of protests are reported to had been arrested as police blocked access to a railroad bridge over the river where activists had planned to unfurl banners.

The action follows a protest on 11 May by over 3,500 people in Jakarta, led by people from several communities outside the capital who are resisting coal projects in Indonesia, along with that in Australia’s Newcastle coal port, the largest bulk shipping port on the east coast of Australia.

Greenpeace estimates that tens of thousands of activists took to the streets, occupied mines, blocked rail lines, linked arms, paddled in kayaks and held community meetings in 13 countries within the “Break Free” actions from NGOs, local organisations and communities.

Image Courtesy: Greenpeace

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