Greenpeace Australia Pacific BLOG

The day giant LEGO people took to the streets of Sydney

Posted on July 30, 2014 at 12:55 by Alex Harris

At 9am on a Friday morning in the Greenpeace Sydney office, our giant LEGO friend, Katy, received a phone call from a supporter informing her that Shell is using it’s partnership with the well-loved LEGO brand to increase fuel sales and divert attention from its Arctic oil drilling. Katy was furious! Katy loves building worlds, not destroying them and it isn’t OK that her face is associated with Arctic oil drilling.

Hello this is LEGO. OMG, WTF, Shell is in bed with LEGO? Let’s stop this now!

Katy called her expert activist friend in the Greenpeace warehouse and asked him to join her in a protest outside a Shell petrol station. But first they needed to make some banners to help send a clear message to Shell – get the hell out of the Arctic!

Behind the scenes at the Greenpeace warehouse there’s a #LEGOuprising in the making.

Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much more.

Painting banners came with its difficulties, but Katy and her friend wouldn’t let the issue of having no knees dampen their spirits.

This would be so much easier if we had knees!

Now the banners were painted, Katy and her friend discussed how they would fasten the banners onto sticks with a drill and a spanner. Katy gasped as she remembered that they didn’t have any ear muffs! But her friend chuckled and reminded Katy that they didn’t need ear muffs because they don’t have ears! *Facepalm moment!*

Spanner - check. Drill - check. Ear muffs? *facepalm* we don’t have ears!

Katy rallied in the rest of her giant yellow friends and felt so thankful for having so many caring friends who loved the Arctic as much as her. They tried to head to the Shell protest in a discreet manner so no one would bust them before they got there… but going undercover is difficult when you have a giant yellow head.

Going undercover is hard when you have a giant yellow head!

Katy and her friends caught Shell by surprise and created quite a scene at the Shell station – people passing by beeped their horns and cheered in support for the protest.

Shell’s partnership with LEGO has created outrage! LEGO’s come together to protest.

This protest is AWESOME! But everything’s NOT awesome in LEGO land.

They felt pretty chuffed with their protest! But they told the media reporters: “We may look happy, but this is our sad face – Shell is destroying the beautiful Arctic and using our well loved face to cover it up.”

We may look happy but this is our sad face. Shell is destroying the Arctic

When the protest was over, Katy and her friends headed back to the Greenpeace office so they could tell the world how AWESOME their protest was.

Now back to the office to tweet the sh*t out of this protest #LEGOuprising #BlockShell
But before they left, they couldn’t resist one last photo opp while singing “to block Shell, we’ve got to come together, right now!”

To #BlockShell we’ve got to ‘come together, right now.’ LEGOmania

You don’t have to have a giant yellow head to help LEGO break away from Shell. Get involved by:

Carmichael coal mine’s impacts will be felt for generations

Posted on July 29, 2014 at 10:50 by Ben Pearson

Originally posted on the ABC – 28 Jul 2014

Aerial of Great Barrier Reef

TEN MONTHS AGO I described pending decisions about coal developments on the Great Barrier Reef left by the outgoing Labor government as “a dead cat in Greg Hunt’s in-tray”.

I’ve met Greg Hunt a few times over the years and I reckon he’s a decent bloke who cares about the environment. That’s why I maintained a pilot light of hope that our new Environment Minister would stand up to the coal industry and throw the ‘dead cat’ in the trash.

That is (and no offense to cat lovers), Minister Hunt had the simple task of rejecting absurd proposals for the biggest coal mine ever proposed for Australia — the Carmichael mine — which requires a new coal export terminal and destructive dredging and dumping in our beloved Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

But for whatever reason, Mr Hunt couldn’t do it.

Minister Hunt has given the green light to coal giant Adani and its proposal to build Carmichael mine in central Queensland.

Made up of six open-cut pits and five underground mines, Carmichael mine will cover an area seven times that of Sydney Harbour. The only way to get coal out of Carmichael mine is via the Great Barrier Reef. Millions of tonnes of seabed will have to be dredged and dumped in the World Heritage Area to make way for port expansions to service this mega-mine.

And Hunt was well aware of the impact on the Reef, because in his short time as Environment Minister, he was the one that approved dredging permits and the coal port expansion at Abbot Point. Hunt gave the go-ahead to port expansions despite warnings from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and UNESCO that the developments would place the World Heritage Area ‘in danger’.

What else did Minister Hunt know about the impacts of Carmichael mine before he approved it?

First, Greg Hunt approved Carmichael mine against independent expert advice that the mine could dry up endangered springs and drain sections of the Great Artesian Basin. The outback mine, which is located in a drought-prone farming area, requires a whopping 12 billion litres of water every year (pdf).

Second, Hunt approved Carmichael mine knowing that carbon emissions from the mine would, at a stroke, cancel out all gains made from his own Direct Action climate policy. While the Direct Action would reduce predicted emissions by 131 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, the burning of coal from Carmichael mine would emit approximately 130 million tonnes of carbon dioxide for every year of the mine’s 90 year life.

Minister Hunt knew the company behind the mine, Adani, had a dirty track record (pdf). In India, Adani has been investigated and fined for illegally building on villagers’ land and destroying protected mangrove areas. An investigation by the Karnataka anti-corruption ombudsman exposed Adani Enterprises’ active involvement in large-scale illegal exports of iron ore at its port, resulting in “huge” economic losses to the Government. Documents seized from Adani’s offices revealed the company was paying cash bribes to port officials, customs, police and local pollies in exchange for “undue favour for illegal exports”.

I assumed our Environment Minister would think twice about letting a company with a destructive record as long as the Ganges anywhere near our Reef.

Hunt even approved Carmichael despite global investors like Deutsche Bank and HSBC refusing to fund the mine’s associated coal port. They pledged to stay away from the project because they felt their reputation was at risk. Surely, if a German bank can see that these projects have an unacceptable impact on the Reef, Australia’s Environment Minister should be able too. And given the uncertainty about whether Carmichael will ever go ahead — and thus the new terminal — it just makes no sense to give it a tick.

With this decision, the political system failed to protect the Great Barrier Reef, the global climate and our national interest. But don’t assume this is the end of the story. The Carmichael mine cannot go ahead without the financial support of one the big four Australian banks. Greenpeace will make sure every Australian knows that any bank cutting a cheque for Carmichael is making possible a monster mine that will endanger our Reef and our climate. If our political leaders won’t govern in the national interest, Greenpeace will ensure Carmichael mine becomes ‘a dead cat’ in the in-tray of anyone involved with it.

ROAR if you love tigers!

Posted on July 29, 2014 at 09:26 by Rashini Suriyaarachchi

Happy International Tiger Day! We’re always working to protect tiger habitats – but today we’re taking some time to celebrate these majestic animals and all the reasons they’re truly incredible.

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Jono Moylan, ANZ and the great fossil fuel swindle

Posted on July 28, 2014 at 12:09 by Nic Clyde

When Jono Moylan was told last Friday that he would not be going to jail, but would instead be getting a two year good behaviour bond, I breathed a huge sigh of relief, along with most other Australians I’m sure. But it also reminded me of a night that occurred about 6 weeks ago, on another Friday night.

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Jono outside the Supreme Court after sentencing. Source: We Stand With Jono Flikr

After a tough week in my job with Greenpeace, campaigning to halt development of the largest coal mine currently under construction in Australia at Maules Creek, I met my family and friends for some dinner and a beer at the Marrickville Golf Club in Sydney’s Inner West.

While standing at the bar awaiting my chance to order some schooners and pink lemonade for the kids, I gazed up to see the Pope and ABC 24’s ticker tape news update: ‘Deutsche Bank rules out funding Abbot point coal terminal’.

“An announcement about a bank deciding not to fund a major coal-port project? Must be that young Moylan fella’s work” I joked to myself.

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Supporters and friends of Jono gather outside the courtroom. © Abram Powell/Greenpeace

At this point, you may recall that Jonathan Moylan pleaded guilty on 23 May of this year, to disseminating false information after distributing a fake press release claiming ANZ had withdrawn support for a Whitehaven coal project, an action that temporarily wiped $314 million from the miner’s market value.

This is the same coal mine that — together with the Leard Forest Alliance, Traditional Owners, war veterans, farmers and ecologists — Greenpeace is working hard to stop.

Ever since I met Jono and heard — direct — the now famous tale of the aspirational (and fake) press release saying that ANZ had withdrawn $1.2 billion in financing for Whitehaven’s new Maules Creek mine near Boggabri in northern NSW, I’ve been on guard against any story in the press about any bank following a moral compass away from dangerous climate change. ‘Banks are bastards’ right? That’s what the 80’s bumper sticker exclaimed. So if Deutsche Bank is declaring that it won’t fund QLD’s Abbot Point coal terminal, it’s gotta be a hoax right?

Then before my beer arrived, the ticker tape clicked over to this: ‘Whitehaven protester pleads guilty to false press release’.

“Aha! Maybe I was right about the hoax? That young Moylan fella is in the news again!”

But I was wrong.

Jono was in the news, having plead ‘guilty’ to a issuing a fake release, but he was sharing the bulletin with another announcement about a real bank, making a very real commitment, aligned with very real community concerns about the expansion of the coal industry in Australia (Deutsche has now been joined by the Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC in publicly ruling out financing of the controversial coal terminal).

No hoax. No joke. As my drinks finally arrived, I thought the updates about Maules Creek and the politics of coal financing were over, but there was one last twist: ‘NRL: Tinkler officially relinquishes control of the Knights’.

Nathan Tinkler, ‘Boganaire’ and former owner of the Maules Creek Coal Project that was the subject of Jono’s release, and remains the ongoing target of a movement-wide push against the expansion of coal, also claimed a spot on the ticker tape feed. His sponsorship of Newcastle’s rugby league team finally ended after one-too many risks were taken in the development of his coal and horse-racing business interests.

Both men share an appetite for risk.

Tinkler’s risks were about building his personal fortune at the expense of a unique forest, Gomeroi cultural heritage and the global climate.

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92-year old Kokoda veteran Bill Ryan joins the silent vigil for Jono © Abram Powell/Greenpeace

Jono’s risk, was that his liberty would not be at stake from a well-intentioned campaign tactic designed to draw attention to the scandalous behaviour of Australian banks, which continue to fund coal projects that will push our planet to the brink of dangerous climate change and beyond.

Our community has a long way to go with this issue. It’s not easy standing up to big coal and the ruthless banks which provide their finance. We need more Jono’s in our community, willing to campaign for the future. The real Jono Moylan is no hoax. He’s the real deal. A good man. An up-standing man.

5 indoor plants that are natural purifiers

Posted on July 20, 2014 at 17:00 by Rashini Suriyaarachchi

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Think your office could do with some fresh air? Try working on a space station. When NASA wanted to help its astronauts breathe easier, they used plants that improve air quality. Take a look at these 5 plants that could help eliminate nasty toxins in the air. (more…)

Australia made history, but for all the wrong reasons

Posted on July 18, 2014 at 11:59 by Nic Clyde

A few short years ago, putting a price on carbon was a sensible first step on the journey to tackle the main cause of climate change – our carbon emissions from increasing use of fossil fuels.

How to stage a #LEGOuprising

Posted on July 17, 2014 at 09:37 by Alex Harris

Someone’s ruffled our LEGO figures bricks! All over the world mini LEGO people are rising up in protest against LEGO’s partnership with Arctic driller Shell. They have taken the world by storm. So far, we’ve witnessed protests in Sydney, Hong Kong, China, Helsinki, Paris, London, Washington DC and Buenos Aires. The big bosses at LEGO Continue reading →