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Greenpeace Activists Climb the Shard in Protest against Arctic Oil Exploration

In the early hours of Thursday morning six Greenpeace activists began to climb the Shard, the tallest building in Western Europe standing at 310 metres, in protest against oil exploration in the Arctic.

Greenpeace explained that the Shard was chosen as the site of its demonstration because it is in sight of the three London offices of the energy giant Shell, who is one of the main companies leading the drilling expeditions in the Arctic.

Greenpeace Activists
GreenpeaceUK posted this picture on Twitter of Wiola Smul (23) from Poland, Ali Garrigan (27) from the UK, Sabine Huyghe (33) from Belgium, Sandra Lamborn (29) from Sweden, Victoria Henry (32) from Canada and Liesbeth Deddens (31) from the Netherlands.

Related article: Arctic Oil & Gas: Not for the Faint of Heart

The plan was to climb to the top and hang a huge banner that would display the natural beauty of the Arctic.

Greenpeace released a statement saying: “Shell is leading the oil companies' drive into the Arctic, investing billions in its Alaskan and Russian drilling programmes. A worldwide movement of millions has sprung up to stop them, but Shell is refusing to abandon its plans.”

Shell replied: “If responsibly developed, Arctic energy resources can help offset supply constraints and maintain energy security for consumers throughout the world. We work extensively with global Arctic stakeholders to research and develop standards and best practice on biodiversity, ecology, marine sound, oil spill prevention and response, safety and health.”

The Shard
The Shard dominating the landscape of central London.

Greenpeace explained that the climbers were using a combination of traditional mountain climbing apparel and techniques, rope access techniques used by commercial building climbers, such as window cleaners, and free climbing.

Related article: Norway Tries to Encourage Arctic Oil & Gas Exploration by Awarding New Licenses

The lead climber would free climb a section of the building, then fix a rope which the rest of the team would then use for the climb. All participants were outfitted with harnesses meaning that if they did slip they would fall no more than 6 metres.

The protestors have their own site iceclimb.savethearctic.org, which offers a live webcam feed of the climb, and gives the height of the party and the number of supporters they have gathered. Whilst writing this the climbers are currently at 240 metres and have 49,817 followers (and that number is growing constantly).

Solitaire Townsend, the cofounder of Futerra Sustainability Communications, stated that Greenepace has managed to master the art of using social networks to attract large numbers of supporters to the issues addressed by small demonstrations.

“Campaigning used to be about how many people you got on your demo. With six people doing something Greenpeace has managed to get tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Brits involved in this campaign. This is the new paradigm. It's not about how many feet you've got on your march it's about how many tweets you've got on your hashtag.”

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com



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