Blog: A Shard of ice in the heart of an oil firm

The tallest skyscraper in Western Europe. Six women. One message. Just one of them reached the top of the Shard after scaling 310 metres in 15 hours, finally unfurling a […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

The tallest skyscraper in Western Europe. Six women. One message.

Just one of them reached the top of the Shard after scaling 310 metres in 15 hours, finally unfurling a huge banner that read ‘Save the Arctic’.

The consequence? Arrest on suspicion of aggravated trespass.

Now I think the #iceclimb stunt was completely bonkers but have to admit it did the job – that is, grab the headlines. The Save the Arctic campaign site has, as I write this, received 69,744 signatures of support and that’s still rising.

London’s Shard wasn’t just a pick out of the blue for the Greenpeace activists. They chose it specifically because it resembles an ice shard as the environmental group is protesting against oil giant Shell drilling in the Arctic.

The climb was seen by thousands of people via a live stream from cameras mounted on the climbers’ helmets and a radio commentary over it.

Admirers on Twitter called it “inspiring”, “a supreme piece of awesomeness” and one tweeted “the world knows that we must save the arctic. 6 women showed us the way”.

Having stood at the foot of the landmark myself, I can tell you the buzz was incredible – there was a massive amount of support.

Of course there were some who disapproved. One poker-faced woman told ELN she used to be a member of Greenpeace “until something like this happened”, she thought it was “outrageous to be climbing up here and disturbing people”. I think she missed the point that, well, that was the point.

Another visitor from Cornwall backed Shell saying, “We’ve got to ensure we’ve got the supply of fuel.” He made an increasingly valid point. Isn’t oil and gas a necessity for the British economy?

Personally I think what the climbers did was brave and we must as individuals play our part in trying to “save the planet”. We do need the voices of climate campaigners reminding governments and big energy firms once in a while about the consequences of what they do.

Maybe Shell’s plan to drill in the Arctic is reckless. It doesn’t seem like the energy giant will be backing down any time soon.

But whether you’re for or against the drilling, we can all agree the protesters have wedged a shard of ice in the heart of the oil firm.