By Timothy Gardner
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Eight protesters who locked themselves to bulldozers at a Duke Energy Corp coal-fired power plant in North Carolina as part of a day of international actions on climate change were arrested on Tuesday, police said.
Rutherford County Sheriff Jack Conner said the protesters were arrested for trespassing. Four were still being held pending the posting of small bonds.
The group was protesting the construction of a new coal unit, which would emit the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.
"The world needs to cut greenhouse emissions 90 percent to avoid dangerous climate change, which means we can't build any more fossil-fuel generation," said Liz Veazey, an alternative energy advocate at the Southeast Climate Convergence who was one of about 12 other Duke protesters who were not arrested.
An umbrella group called Rising Tide and several other green groups organized protests that took place on Tuesday in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. They labeled the actions Fossil Fools Day, a play on April Fools.
Many climate experts like NASA's James Hansen have said that levels of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere are already dangerous and that higher temperatures could lead to deadly storms, droughts and floods. Building new power generation using coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, should be banned, according to Hansen.
In one of the event's other actions, protesters were arrested at the Bank of America's office in Boston. They were protesting the bank's financial support for coal plants and mountain top coal mining, a method used in Appalachia in which companies blast off the tops of mountains to reach coal.
A BoA spokesman said that in addition to recently pledging $20 billion in investments in clean renewable energy over the next decade, the bank has worked with coal companies to increase their investments in clean energy.
The North Carolina protesters entered company property but did not stop construction of the 800-megawatt Unit 6 at the Cliffside coal plant, said spokesman Rick Rhodes.
He said that as part of the agreement to build the unit, Duke would retire 800 MW of its less efficient coal-fired generation, some of which was built in the 1940s. "Unit 6 will be carbon-neutral by 2018," he said.
Veazey said the agreement could not be considered a direct offset. She said the new unit would emit more carbon dioxide than the old ones because it would run steadily while the old ones were often only used when power demand was peaking.
Rhodes said none of Duke's coal-fired units could be considered peak generation because it takes a while to fire up coal boilers, but said that some of the units scheduled to be retired do not run all day.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner, editing by Matthew Lewis)