37 arrested at Australian climate protest

Sun Jul 13, 2008

SYDNEY (AFP) - Thirty-seven people were arrested at a climate change protest in Australia on Sunday when they blocked a railway line delivering coal, police said.

Organisers said as many as 1,000 people attended the protest march from Newcastle to the nearby Carrington coal terminal, where some demonstrators broke through a fence and chained themselves to a stationary coal train.

Police said 37 people had been arrested for a number of offences including trespassing.

The protest, organised by environmental groups under the umbrella of Camp for Climate Action, was designed to draw attention to Australia's export of fossil fuels such as coal.

"Our presence here has meant that there are no coal train movements into the Carrington Coal terminal," spokesman George Woods said.

Participant Damien Lawson, from Friends of the Earth Australia, said the protest "sent a message all around the world about the need for urgent action on climate change."

"There's no solution to global warming without addressing the problems of coal," he told AFP. "We need a rapid transfer away from coal power and an end to Australian exports."

Lawson said the Australian protest, which blocked the railway for most of the day, would cost the industry an estimated 1.2 million US dollars.

The Australian action is the first in a string of demonstrations planned for around the world following in the footsteps of the Climate Camp near Heathrow Airport in London last year.

Australia is one of the world's biggest exporters of coal.

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