NEWCASTLE, 17 October 2014 — Thirty Pacific Climate Warriors have been joined by hundreds of Australians to peacefully blockade the world’s largest coal port in Newcastle today and called on the country to stop its destructive expansion of fossil fuels causing climate change.

The 30 warriors have used traditional canoes, built in their islands and brought to Australia, to stop coal ships from entering and leaving the port for the day. In doing so they have shown the fossil fuel industry that they will stand up to Australia’s radical plans to double coal exports and drastically increase gas production that are causing the climate change threatening their homelands.

This occurred on the same day hundreds of Australians closed their bank accounts with Australia’s big four banks to make a statement against their financing of fossil fuel expansion projects. The ‘National Day of Divestment Action’ is part of a broader international campaign to shift investment capital away from the fossil fuel industry. ANZ, the Commonwealth Bank, NAB and Westpac have so far lost over $200 million to banks like Bendigo Bank which has a policy against investment in fossil fuels.

Pacific Islands will bare the brunt of the impacts of climate change with increasing sea levels, floods and intense storms. Milañ Loeak, a 26-year-old warrior from the Marshall Islands and daughter of the President of the Marshall Islands Chris Loeak, said her islands were already feeling the impacts.

“I’ve seen my people and my islands suffer the impacts of climate change through droughts and floods from high tides.  

“The impacts of climate change in my country has very real impacts on people lives,” she said.  “I have a close friend whose house was destroyed by the king tides earlier this year, and that was her whole life,” she said. “She told me ‘the sound of the ocean used to be a constant comfort in my life, lulling me to sleep. And in such a short time, it destroyed my home.”

Mikaele Maiava, a warrior from Tokelau, said that after years of failed global climate negotiations it was essential for the Warriors to take direction action to stop climate change.

“It is very important for us to take direct actions against climate change because it is threatening our lives and our islands. Our land is the most valuable treasure in our lives and the impacts of climate change will destroy it. We don’t want this to happen and we will not allow it to happen.”

Maiava directly targeted the Australian Government for their lack of action on the issue.

“Australia is regarded as the biggest member of the Pacific family. Their exporting of fossil fuels however have made them an unloving family member,” he said. “This is why we are taking a stand for all other members of the Pacific family that are affected directly by Australia’s destructive actions,” he said.

Milañ Loeak said the fossil fuel industry needed to change course to save their islands.

“None of us who have felt the impacts of climate change should continue to suffer through them just to fulfill others’ interests. We don’t deserve to lose our Islands and we will do what we must to ensure we won’t,” Milañ concluded.  

What: 30 Pacific Climate Warriors lead hundreds of Australians to blockade the Newcastle Coal Port

When: Happening now until 5:30pm

Where: Horseshoe Beach, Newcastle.

Media kit attached. Photos available here. Photos will be updated. Interviews available.

Updates will follow.