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Greenpeace occupies Swedish oil refinery

September 13, 2020

A temporary Greenpeace blockade of Sweden's largest oil port has culminated in six arrests. Activists scaled harbor cranes at Brotjorden, where its operator Preem plans a refinery expansion.

The Lysekil oil refinery in western Sweden
Image: picture-alliance/TT News Agency/T. Johansson

Swedish police said Sunday they'd arrested six Greenpeace women activists who'd trespassed into the Brofjorden oil port and refinery to protest the planned expansion of the facility by its operator Preem.

The DPA news agency reported that three of the activists had scaled harbor cranes at the plant located near the western city of Lysekil.

Greenpeace said the six were nationals of Finland, Norway and Sweden, and were trained and equipped for scaling industrial objects.

On Thursday and Friday, the environmental group's ship Rainbow Warrior had anchored offshore, blocking one tanker's arrival as well as two departures. 

Broadcaster SVT reported that late Friday that a tanker was eventually able to leave after Greenpeace said its protest vessel had relocated "some distance away." 

Read more: Germany proposes major cross-party 'climate charter'

Finnish village fights climate change

Forty-five year battle

Conservationists, back in 1975, had vigorously opposed the refinery's opening on Sweden's rugged western coast. 

The environmentalist group now wants Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, a Social Democrat, to block the refinery expansion.

Opposing expansion are the Greens, junior members of Lofven's coalition.

Preem says its plan is to upgrade heavy oil to sulfur-free gasoline and diesel, but Greenpeace says Sweden must uphold the UN's 2015 deal to avert climate change, saying the expansion will lift emissions by a million tons of carbon dioxide yearly.

Read more: Vanessa Nakate: 'Many people are not yet aware of the dangers of climate change'

"Lofven must choose the Paris agreement over the oil industry's short-term profits and deny the expansion of Preemraff in Lysekil," said Greenpeace Sweden's spokeswoman Isadora Wronski.

Lysekil is a town across narrow waters leading to the Brofjorden refinery, about 120 kilometers (74 miles) north of Gothenburg. 

Sweden's environmental court of appeal approved the project in June, but the final decision rests with the government.

Second stunt of the week

In Brussels on Friday, Greenpeace unfurled a huge banner on the European Commission's 17-story main building to publicize burning Amazon forests.

"Amazon fires, Europe guilty," it read, denouncing Europe's planned trade deal with Latin American Mercosur nations, including Brazil. 

EU imports of beef, palm oil and soya make it "complicit" for 10% of deforestation in the Amazon and other ecosystems, argues Greenpeace, which hopes shoppers will use their clout.

Read more: Flight shaming is working, but will Europe's railways buckle under the strain?

Also on Friday, Reuters said it had sighted a European Commission document proposing that by 2030 the EU cut its net greenhouse gases by at least 55% compared to levels in 1990.

Already, the bloc aims for 40% cut by 2030. A higher target would cement its intent to become a global leader in curbing catastrophic climate change.

The tougher target is to be proposed this coming week, with the 27-nation bloc split over how ambitious it should be.

ipj/mm (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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