Greenpeace blocks unloading of coal at Polish port


Warsaw (AFP)

Greenpeace said its activists climbed cranes at the Polish port of Gdansk Wednesday to block the unloading of coal from Mozambique, and called on the government to move to renewable energy.

"At dawn, 29 Greenpeace activists climbed two cranes at a coal terminal of the Gdansk port," Greenpeace Polska spokeswoman Katarzyna Guzek told AFP. The activists hung banners on the cranes reading "Poland without coal 2030", she added.

Local police told AFP they were aware of the Greenpeace action and were monitoring the situation along with port officials.

"First we blocked the vessel from docking, now we're preventing it from unloading the shipment," said Guzek.

The group tried on Monday to prevent the cargo vessel Indian Goodwill from docking, blocking it with its own vessel, Rainbow Warrior.

Armed border guards intervened, hauling the Greenpeace boat out of the port and detaining the captain and another activist early on Tuesday.

They released another 16 activists on board after identity checks, and the vessel anchored outside the port.

Prosecutors said they would decide Wednesday whether to charge the two activists -- the Spanish captain and an Austrian national -- detained for navigation security violations.

Greenpeace wants Poland's right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) government to abandon burning coal by 2030 -- the European Union's target date for phasing out coal use.

"We have little time left to prevent an unfolding climate disaster and the Polish government's reliance on coal puts at risk our hopes for a safe and sustainable future," Greenpeace Poland programme director Pawel Szypulski said in a statement.

"This is why activists are compelled to take action. Polish citizens are calling for a transition from coal towards renewable energy."

Under the 2015 Paris climate treaty, the EU pledged to reduce its carbon emissions responsible for causing rising global temperatures by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

The Polish government plans only a gradual reduction in dependence on coal for electricity production, from around 80 percent today to 60 percent in 2030.

Poland along with Hungary has rejected an EU bid for zero-net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, insisting this would hamper their economies.