Coals from Newcastle: how kayaking climate protesters blockaded the Australian port

Planet Business: Virgin Atlantic’s sustainable aviation fuel flight, Charlie Munger’s one-liners and the new prime minister of New Zealand

Image of the week: Blue-sky blockade

Environmental protests, especially those against coal, don’t often produce such vibrant photographs. But then that, in part, was what made the kayak-themed blockade of the world’s largest coal port so powerful: the images that documented the activism of about 1,500 climate protesters in Newcastle, Australia, doubled as a reminder of the beauty the planet stands to lose.

Rising Tide, the group organising the protest in the summery New South Wales city, said it aimed to hold the largest peaceful civil disobedience protest for climate action in the history of Australia, one of the world’s most prolific consumers and producers of coal.

The protesters paddled, surfed, swam and used their bodies to form the words “we are the rising tide” on the beach over the course of an approved 30-hour protest.

Some arrests followed at the end of the 30 hours, with 104 people charged for refusing to leave the harbour’s shipping lane after the cut-off time that had been agreed with police. But how do you arrest a kayaker? Social media video evidence suggests the answer is “with difficulty”.


In numbers: SAF focus


Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) accounts for this much of the aviation fuel used globally. Made from agricultural waste and used cooking oil, its production involves about 70 per cent less carbon than conventional jet fuel.


A Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 Dreamliner that took off from Heathrow and landed at New York’s JFK airport on Tuesday became the first commercial long-haul flight to use pure SAF this week. Richard Branson’s Virgin was awarded up to £1 million (€1.15 million) in a UK government grant to plan the flight.


Several European airline groups – including Aer Lingus owner IAG, Virgin and Air France – have set a target of using 10 per cent SAF by 2030. Ryanair’s target is 12.5 per cent.

Getting to know: Christopher Luxon

If you missed the fact that New Zealand had a general election last month, that might be because it took place on the same day as a more pivotal event from an Irish perspective – the All Blacks’ quarter-final victory over Ireland in the Rugby World Cup. That was enough New Zealand news for one weekend, thanks.

All of this is the long way of saying New Zealand has another new prime minister, with Chris Hipkins – the Chris who replaced Jacinda Ardern as leader of the country’s Labour party in January and became prime minister – suffering electoral defeat in October to the centre-right National party and its leader, another Chris.

Former Air New Zealand boss Christopher Luxon (53) was duly sworn in this week and got his premiership off to an international headline-garnering start by reversing Ardern legislation that would have imposed a ban on the sale of tobacco to anyone born after 2008. Health experts were unimpressed.

The list: Charlie Munger quotes

Warren Buffett’s trusted confidante Charlie Munger, the vice-chairman of Berkshire Hathaway who died this week aged 99, was known for his funny, clever and often cutting one-liners at Berkshire’s annual meetings. Here are five of the best.

1. Competition: “Competency is a relative concept…what I needed to get ahead was to compete against idiots and luckily there’s a large supply.”

2. Industry pitfalls: “It’s not that great a business as a business, casualty insurance. It’s a tough game. There are temptations to be stupid in it. It’s like banking.”

3. Advice to business school attendees: “I recommend you learn to do it our way but, at least until you’re out of school, you have to pretend to do it their way.”

4. Other people’s delusions: “Warren, if people weren’t so often wrong, we wouldn’t be so rich.”

5. Remuneration: “The general system for money management requires people to pretend that they can do something that they can’t do and to pretend to like it when they really don’t. I think that’s a terrible way to spend your life, but it’s very well paid.”