Greenpeace 'warship' to weigh anchor in GenSan

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/15 November)—Rainbow Warrior, the campaign ship of the environment group Greenpeace, will dock at Makar wharf in General Santos City on Friday, November 19, to support the protest against the planned construction of a coal-fired power plant in Maasim town in neighboring Sarangani province.

Greenpeace Ship Rainbow Warrior. Photo courtesy of GreenpeaceLea Guerrero, regional communications manager of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said the campaign ship’s visit in the Philippines will be the last leg of its “Turn the Tide” journey in Southeast Asia, to strongly urge governments to take decisive action against climate change.

The voyage, which kicked off in September this year and covered Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, showcases renewable energy as among the solutions to the global problem of climate change while exposing coal-fired power plants and deforestation as culprits.

Guerrero said they decided to dock in General Santos City upon invitation from the communities in Maasim who are protesting against the coal-fired plant being put up by Conal Holdings Corporation there.

“We come to Maasim in support of the fisherfolk and the parish of Maasim who are opposing the coal-fired plant,” she said.

She added that coal, a fossil fuel, has been identified as one of the greatest contributors to climate change.

“We’ve been urging the Philippine government to finally phase out coal from the energy mix of the Philippines,” she said, referring to the Greenpeace campaign to shift to renewable energy sources.

She stressed that the “clean technology” promoted by companies putting up coal-fired plants in the area, is not really “clean” because it does not prevent the release of carbon dioxide and mercury to the environment.

“There is no technology yet that will prevent mercury and carbon dioxide emission from these coal-fired plants,” she said.

“Mercury has the tendency to ‘bio-accumulate,’ which means, that when it is released to the sea and get swallowed by fish and later eaten by humans, its concentration becomes ‘higher’ the longer it is stored in the food chain.”

Greenpeace has been urging governments in Southeast Asia to take immediate and decisive action to combat climate change by supporting the development of renewable energy sources in its energy mix.

Guerrero said that the Rainbow Warrior has always been Greenpeace’s campaign ship, which became famous for its role in the campaign against nuclear weapons tests the 1980s.

Rainbow Warrior 1, which campaigned against nuclear testing in the Pacific, was bombed in 1985 allegedly by French secret agents in an “attempt to foil protests of their nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific,” Greenpeace said.  The new ship, Rainbow Warrior, successfully ended the French nuclear testing program.

The current Rainbow Warrior was launched on July 10, 1989.  It has had a “colorful history” of campaigning against war and environmental crimes. Once, it relocated a population of a South Pacific island contaminated by radiation and provided disaster relief to victims of the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia.

“It had sailed against whaling, against war and climate change, against coal and other environmental crimes in the world,” Guerrero said.

It considered among its achievements the moratorium on the conversions of peatland and high conservation-carbon value forests declared by President Yudohono in Indonesia this year, the Philippine Renewable Energy Law, which paved the way for massive uptake of clean energy in the country, and the declaration of Mindoro island in the Philippines as the country’s first declared genetically-modified organism (GMO)-free zone in the country. (Germelina Lacorte/MindaNews)