Historic tour

• Mother Nature had perfect timing as Greenpeace’s flagship Rainbow Warrior arrived in Fremantle this week, perhaps in thanks for its mission of raising awareness about our impact on the environment.

A ‘Turn the Tide on Woodside’ community paddle-out will be held by Greenpeace at South Beach in Fremantle on Sunday morning.

The family-friendly protest is just one of the events Greenpeace has planned while its Rainbow Warrior boat is docked in Freo until Monday (May 1).

The ship sailed up from Albany and arrived in Fremantle on Wednesday as part of Greenpeace’s ‘Whales Not Woodside’ tour, celebrating the 45th anniversary of the end of commercial whaling.

Greenpeace will use the tour as a platform to get stuck into Woodside over its plans to open two new gas fields, Scarborough and Browse, off the coast of WA, and to extend the life of the North West Shelf gas processing facility, located 135km north-west of Karratha, until 2070.

Greenpeace claim the combined greenhouse gas emissions from all of this will be more than six billion tonnes, making it the biggest new fossil fuel project in Australia. 

“Woodside’s expansion plans directly risk our beautiful oceans and marine wildlife here in WA,” says Jess Panegyres, head of clean energy transition at Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

• Greenpeace show off their banner in Albany earlier this week.

“Woodside wants to drill at a coral reef, the magnificent Scott Reef about 400km Northwest of Broome. They want to lay gas pipelines into endangered and threatened turtle habitats. 

“And they want to conduct seismic blasting that can deafen and injure endangered whales. We’re particularly worried about the impacts of Woodside’s seismic testing on the pygmy blue whale, one of only two endangered whales found in Australian waters.” 

But in its final environmental impact statement, Woodside said its proposed $30.4 billion Browse LNG project can contribute to achieving the goals of the Paris climate accord.

The Rainbow Warrior will be open for tours while docked in Fremantle with the crew holding banner-making workshops.

Greenpeace has joined forces with the WA Conservation Council, Surfers for Climate and School Strike for Climate to host the paddle-out at South Beach at 8.30am on Sunday. 

”It’s about standing up for our oceans and climate,” Ms Panegyres says.

After leaving Freo, the Rainbow Warrior will sail north along the coast, documenting the oceans and marine life they claim will be under threat from the Woodside project. 

It then docks in the Kimberley, where Greenpeace will co-host community events with Environs Kimberley, the peak environmental NGO in the region.

• Fremantle mayor Hannah Fitzhardinge (middle) welcomes Rainbow Warrior captain Hettie Geenen (left) and Greenpeace CEO David Ritter to the port city. Photo by Steve Grant.

“We started this tour in Albany, celebrating the 45th anniversary of the end of commercial whaling in Australian waters and the birthplace of Greenpeace Australia Pacific,” says Ms Panegyres.

“We’ve had a wonderful reception already – the Albany event sold out three times over – and it’s a real joy to be joining with communities up and down the coast who want to protect WA’s beautiful oceans and safeguard our climate.” 

Greenpeace Australia Pacific CEO David Ritter says the return of the Rainbow Warrior to West Australian waters comes at a significant time for climate and ocean protection.

“I’m from Perth myself and I grew up hearing the wonderful stories of the community members who had taken action to save the whales. Some of those people were the founders of Greenpeace in Australia,” he says.

“WA is one of the sunniest, windiest places in the world and with a highly educated workforce and abundant resources, it has the potential to be a renewable superpower.”


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