About a dozen protesters, including one of Canada's leading energy-environment economists, were arrested Saturday after setting up a blockade on train tracks in White Rock, B.C., aimed at stopping U.S. coal trains from reaching local ports.
Mark Jaccard, a professor of sustainable energy at Simon Fraser University and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, was arrested along with several others late Saturday evening following a day-long protest in the 15000 block of Marine Drive.
"Thirteen protesters were arrested without incident and were respectful of the police and the process that was ... a result of their actions," said RCMP Sgt. Peter Thiessen.
The protesters, 12 men and one woman, were each served with a $115-ticket for trespassing under the Railway Safety Act. All were subsequently released from police custody.
In a written statement released before the protest, Jaccard said he was prepared to be arrested.
"Putting myself in a situation where I may be accused of civil disobedience is not something I have ever done before," he said.
"But the current willingness of especially our federal government to brazenly take actions that ensure we cannot meet scientifically and economically sound greenhouse gas reduction targets for Canada and the planet leaves me with no alternative."
Demonstrators spent much of the day camped out on train tracks at the White Rock pier in order to stop Burlington Northern Santa Fe trains from delivering U.S. coal to the Deltaport.
Jaccard said he and the other protesters hope to stop the actions they claim cause climate change, which includes coal mining.
"The window of opportunity for avoiding a high risk of runaway, irreversible climate change is closing quickly," he said.
"Within this decade we will either have steered away from disaster, or have locked ourselves onto a dangerous course. Our governments continue to ignore the warnings of scientists and push forward with policies that will accelerate the burning of fossil fuels.
"Private interests — coal, rail, oil, pipeline companies and the rest — continue to push their profit driven agenda, heedless of the impact on the rest of us."
Jaccard went on to call government's response to climate change concerns "entirely inadequate."
"I now ask myself how our children, when they look back decades from now, will have expected us to have acted today," he said.
"When I think about that, I conclude that every sensible and sincere person, who cares about this planet and can see through lies and delusion motivated by money, should be doing what I and others are now prepared to do."
Yesterday we prevented 5 BNSF coal trains from entering BC to unload coal at Westshore Terminals. We physically stopped a 6th train on the tracks at White Rock BC at 6 pm, at which point 14 good citizens were arrested for violating a court order not to interfere with BNSF operations.
Here's what was involved: 14 people willing to risk arrest to stand up for what they believe in. The support of prominent people like Bill McKibben, James Hansen and Mark Jaccard, who were ready to speak up in advance and say this is the right thing to do. A stoked-up group of supporters who, through their actions, helped set a tone for the day that was peaceful, creative and hopeful, but also focused and determined. A network of people in Washington State keeping us abreast of train movements. One Twitter account.
That's all it took to stop Warren Buffett in his tracks for a full day -- a very important day for him personally. We were all overwhelmed by how beautifully everything unfolded. It all seemed a bit unreal at days end -- but that may have been because of the sunburn, dehydration and overall exhaustion. Still, on a sunny Sunday morning, anything seems possible.
We were never worried about our physical safety because everything was planned out carefully and announced in advance. Our interactions with the police were incredible – respectful, candid and ongoing throughout the day. The White Rock detachment of the RCMP worked hard all day in the interest of public safety while also acknowledging our right to peacefully stand up for what we believe in. It was a good day to be a Canadian citizen.
That 100 car coal train we stopped in White Rock did reach the port eventually, but it did so under the watchful eye of hundreds of onlookers and media crews. Warren Buffett's arrangement to ship dirty Wyoming coal to Jimmy Pattison's port -- the biggest exporter of global warming pollution in North America -- is firmly in the public eye. We've started to connect the dots between coal exports and climate change. This is just the beginning.