Greenpeace has begun its latest campaign against Shell, with a month of protests over the oil giant’s plans to drill in the Arctic. The protests began Stateside last week in Portland, Ore., with 13 Greenpeace USA activists rappelling from the St. John’s Bridge in Portland on July 29 — the intrepid activists remained suspended there overnight and successfully blocked Shell’s Arctic drilling support vessel, the Fennica, as it attempted to leave Portland on July 30 (and successfully creating the latest “mind bomb” for Greenpeace — see image, right).
“This was a historic achievement not just because it blocked Shell’s icebreaker from reaching the Arctic, but because it helped spark an even bigger movement of people to raise their voices for something they believe in,” said Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard**.** “Drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean would be a terrible mistake, and we call on President Obama to join the millions of people who are speaking with one voice to say it loud and clear: ShellNo.”
Despite a historic move away from oil and cheers from environmentalists this week at the release of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, fossil fuels clearly won’t disappear overnight. So Greenpeace has taken the party overseas, with activists beginning the week with a Titanic-themed orchestral performance outside Shell’s London headquarters.
The protests began with a performance of “Requiem for Arctic Ice,” an orchestral piece inspired by the famous story of the musicians continuing to play as the Titanic sank after it hit an iceberg (and also the name of Greenpeace’s campaign site), by the Crystal Palace Quartet and supporting musicians.
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The move aims to encourage Shell’s UK staff to challenge their bosses on Arctic drilling, and protesters were offering free copies of the music and a whistle-blower email to employees as they arrived for work.
“This protest is about reaching into the hearts of Shell employees and asking them to help Shell avert disaster,” said Greenpeace Arctic campaigner Mel Evans. “The Titanic was doomed because its design couldn’t outsmart the icy ocean. Shell is also vastly underestimating the risks it faces in the Arctic.
“If Shell tries to drill in the harsh Arctic environment then oil spills are inevitable. And an oil spill in the remote Arctic would be impossible to clean up, leaving local people and wildlife to suffer the consequences for years.”
And with a limited amount of fossil fuels that can be burned if the world is to keep rising temperatures in check, scientists have ruled out drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic as “inconsistent” with efforts to tackle climate change.
Melting Arctic ice as a result of climate change is opening up the region to increased fishing and fossil fuel exploration, and Shell has already spent billions of dollars attempting to find oil and gas in its icy waters, though it has been dogged by operation issues and protests.
Shell said it respected people’s right to protest but criticized the Greenpeace “publicity stunt.”
A spokesman for the company said: “We believe we can play an important role in developing the Arctic’s energy resources. We choose to explore there because we have the expertise and experience to operate responsibly and be profitable at the same time.
“Many Arctic peoples and governments agree with that judgment. They support the opportunity to explore for oil and gas in their territories and those governments have awarded Shell the licences to conduct those operations.
“The reality is that hydrocarbons will remain a major part of the world’s energy system for many years, not least because they provide the path to prosperity for many millions of people in the developing world, enabling them to enjoy living standards that the western world takes for granted.”