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Greenpeace Protest Brings 'Grave Warning From Nature' to World Economic Forum

Protest in Davos highlights Shell's risky Arctic drilling plans

by
Beth Brogan, staff writer

A Greenpeace activist dressed as a polar bear stands on the roof of a filling station during a protest against global oil giant Shell on Friday near the Swiss resort of Davos, where the 2013 World Economic Forum (WEF) is taking place. (Photograph: Johannes Eisele / AFP / Getty Images)

Twenty-five activists shut down a Shell station on Friday in Davos, Switzerland—just down the road from the World Economic Forum— to bring a "grave warning from nature" and highlight the looming environmental catastrophe of Royal Dutch Shell's Arctic drilling plans.

Beneath a banner reading "Arctic Oil—Too Risky," the protesters—one in a polar bear costume and others chained to gas pumps in the 15º C weather—garnered the attention of journalists who stepped out of the WEF to hear the group's environmental warning, Greenpeace reports.

Officials from Shell are among the 2,500 business and political leaders attending the WEC summit this week, according to the Associated Press.

Greenpeace, which helped stage the protest, is in Davos "because Shell is here too," Ben Stewart wrote at Greenpeace's blog. "Shell chief executive Peter Voser signed a $10 billion deal here to exploit oil shale in Ukraine, but he'll also be trying to reassure investors that the company's huge investment in the Arctic is still a good bet, despite the huge problems Shell is having up there."

Stewart continued:

We're telling them that the retreat of the Arctic sea ice—an effect of the global warming caused by burning fossil fuels—must not be exploited by oil companies to send their rigs into the newly opened waters.

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We have to heed this grave warning from nature, but Shell looks at the melting ice and wants to use it to drill for the fuels that caused the melting in the first place.

Earlier this month, following the Dec. 31 grounding of Shell's oil rig Kulluk, the Department of the Interior, Senate Commerce subcommittee and Coast Guard launched formal investigations into the oil giant's offshore drilling practices, and the Coast Guard undertook a separate criminal investigation into another ship contracted by Shell to search for oil in the Arctic.

At the time, retired University of Alaska Professor Rick Steiner told Edward Teller of Firedoglake, "Shell continues to assert that the company knows what it is doing offshore in the Arctic, and clearly, it doesn’t. Essentially Shell says: 'Don’t worry, be happy…trust us.' Well, we don’t."

Environmental groups have repeatedly warned that there is no way to safely drill in the Arctic.

On Thursday, Shell joined Goldman Sachs in winning the Public Eye "Shame Award," awarded by Greenpeace and the Berne Declaration to two WEF member corporations "for particularly glaring cases of companies' greed for profit and environmental sins."

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