Greenpeace Activists Scale UK's Tallest Building to Protest Arctic Drilling

Published on
by
Common Dreams

Greenpeace Activists Scale UK's Tallest Building to Protest Arctic Drilling

'1 skyscraper. 6 women. No Permission.'

by
Jon Queally, staff writer

Updated: Following a dramtic full-day climb, Greenpeace released this statement late Thursday:

After 15 hours of arduous climbing on the sheer face of Western Europe’s tallest building, six women climbers from Greenpeace finally reached the top of the Shard at 07.08pm today. The climbers were cheered by crowds gathered at the foot of the skyscraper and watched by tens of thousands through a live stream on the Greenpeace website. 

Having reached the 310 metre peak, two of the activists waved a 32-square-foot flag with the demand “Save the Arctic” written across it. 

The team of climbers began their ascent at just after 4.00am this morning after eluding security guards at the base of the building and throughout the day they have made steady progress in their quest to reach the Shard’s peak.  

Today’s audacious campaign event is part of a year-long campaign Greenpeace has been waging against Shell and the other companies who are drilling in the Arctic or intend to do so. After badly botching its attempt to extract oil off the coast of Alaska, Shell has now joined forces with would-be Arctic driller Gazprom, a Russian oil giant with appalling safety and environmental records.

Commenting on today’s campaign John Sauven Executive Director of Greenpeace UK said:

“It is an honour to stand here at the foot of Europe’s highest building and witness this remarkable achievement by these women – watching them fly the flag to protect the Arctic from the top of the Shard is a remarkable sight. And I’m not the only one watching this today – the executives of Shell, whose offices are all around this building, simply won’t be able to ignore what we have done. As a result of our action, fifty thousand extra people have joined up to the campaign.

“If Shell continues to ignore the huge groundswell of support for protecting the Arctic then they will do irreversible damage to their reputation.”

Having waved their flag to London the climbers made an assessment on the final aspect of today’s event – the installing of a major art work. But the installation was due to take four hours, potentially taking the protest into darkness. As a result they will now come down, secure in the knowledge they have inspired people across the world.

And the Telegraph newspaper tweeted this photo:

Earlier:

Six women activists from Greenpeace on Thursday scaled Britain's tallest building, known as the Shard for its ice-like design, in a dramatic protest against the fossil fuel industry's ongoing plans to drill for oil and gas in the Arctic.

Greenpeace providied ongiong voice-over commentary over a live video stream as people around the world watched the climbers make their way up the side of the 310 meter skyscraper.

In a statement put out before their attempt, the six climbers explain why their fight against Shell's plans to drill in the Arctic is so important:

As the ice disappears our global weather becomes more unpredictable. Farming gets harder. Hunger gets worse.

The Arctic is a vital part of our home and that's why it matters to everyone on our shared planet to protect it.

Shell and other oil companies want to use the melting Arctic to drill for oil. They want to drill in the places they can only now reach because the ice is melting. And burning that oil only accelerates the melt.

It's a vicious circle that only makes sense if you're an oil executive thinking about your company's short-term profits. Or you're a politician hoping some quick money will help you win the next election.

But we are not those people. We have a responsibility to think bigger than that.

Follow the events on the Greenpeace/UK Twitter feed:

And responding to the action, Guardian environmental chief Damian Carrington says the daredevil climbers "look sane compared the dash to the pole for oil and gas" by the fossil fuel industry, writing:

The threat to the Arctic is so drowning in irony that it would be funny if the stakes were not so high. The Arctic ice cap has for a century or more prevented virtually all attempts to drill for the large oil and gas reserves buried below the sea floor.

But the relentless exploitation of fossil fuels since the industrial revolution, and the carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere as a result, has driven global warming to shrink the ice cap by half in just four decades. The burning of fossil fuels has melted the ice and opened the Arctic to the exploitation of more fossil fuels. [...]

If the world's nations are true to their word, we can't possibly burn the oil and gas that could come from the Arctic. A report in April on the global carbon bubble showed how at least two-thirds of the oil, coal and gas reserves already held by fossil fuel companies will have to remain underground if the world is to meet existing internationally agreed targets to avoid the threshold for "dangerous" climate change.

So, we have a rush in one of the world's last, fragile paradises, made possible by fossil fuel burning, to pump out more fossil fuels that we can't burn without completely frying the planet. Compared to that, free-climbing the 310m-tall Shard looks like the definition of sanity.

The group of climbers released this photo of themselves before beginning their climb:

And respondents all over the world were tweeting with the hashtag #iceclimb to show their support:

Watch their ascent here:

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