Greenpeace protest against carbon dioxide emissions – halfway up a power plant’s smokestack

Photo: CTK

On Thursday, 11 members of the environmental organisation Greenpeace set up camp halfway up one of the chimneys at the Prunerov power plant in northern Bohemia. The group originally planned to camp out on the chimney until Saturday, protesting against the carbon dioxide emissions produced by the plant. But on Friday afternoon, they were forced to abandon their protest due to bad weather. While they were up there, Radio Prague gave them a call to ask them about the protest. So here, from the dizzying height of 70m, speaking earlier today, is Jan Rovensky:

“We decided to climb this chimney because the factory which it belongs to is the biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the Czech Republic. It emits 70 tonnes of carbon dioxide every minute into the atmosphere. And this adds up, it comes to 9 million tonnes per year. And we think it is a very good place for us to point out the problem of climate-change, which we think is really important.

“Now there is a climate conference being held in Bali, in Indonesia, at which politicians are deciding what to do after the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012. And we really want to send a message to the politicians there, that people are concerned, and that they must do something.”

Photo: CTK
And when do you plan on coming back down? How long is this protest going to last?

“We had three aims at the start of the project. The first one was to unfold a big, 60-metre long banner at the top of the chimney, but in such strong winds, this has proved impossible. The second one was to establish a connection with our team on Bali and communicate to them our situation here and our requests. And we succeeded in that yesterday. And our third aim, which I think was most important, was to gain the public’s interest.”

Photo: CTK
Leading on from that, do you think that what you have done is really the best way to get your message across? Because maybe a lot of people see this more as sabotage and don’t necessarily sympathise with what you have done.

Photo: CTK
“I have one very easy answer to this. We organised a press conference about this meeting in Bali last Tuesday in Prague. We told the media that we could establish a live connection with the Czech representatives in Bali and the heads of Greenpeace in Bali. We wanted to give the press a more detailed scientific view on the whole issue. And no one came to this conference from the media. So, I think if you want to really publicise an issue, I think it’s a pity, but sometimes it is necessary to use some more visible, eye-catching, ways of presenting it.”

What was your first night like up on the chimney? And what are conditions like up there right now?

“Well, there was no problem with the cold, because we were prepared for it. But there were very strong winds during the night, and our tent was not made to endure such strong winds. So, at around midnight, we came down from a height of 150m to a height of 70m, so, in the worst case scenario, we can get down from the chimney if we need to quickly.”