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Emma vs Shell

Emma Thompson to break Shell injunction in Arctic drilling protest
Emma Thompson joins activists and giant polar bear Aurora in a protest against Shell's drilling in the Arctic. Picture from MyGreenPod Sustainable News

Acclaimed British actor and screenwriter Emma Thompson has just announced she will be joining an act of mass defiance against a Shell legal injunction later today, in protest against the company’s Arctic oil drilling.

Emma Thompson: protect the Arctic – open letter calls on Arctic Council to ‘change the plot before the story is written’

Arctic Roar


Crossing the line

Speaking after performing a self-penned poem in front of the oil giant’s HQ, Emma told the press she is going to be the first of scores of people to break a legal injunction banning Greenpeace UK staff and activists from crossing a line drawn around the Shell building on the South Bank.

At around 2pm today, Emma will attempt to stick a giant paw print onto the building. It will carry thousands of names that make up some of the seven million people who have joined the Arctic movement. More than 600,000 of them are from the UK.

‘Shell has drawn a line around its headquarters and its lawyers say we’re banned from crossing it. Well, Shell crossed a line when it moved its rig into the Arctic, so I’m going to step over its line. And when I do I’ll be carrying the names of thousands of people who stand for Arctic protection. We’re drawing our own line, a line in the ice, and we’re telling Shell to pull back its rig.’

Emma Thompson, acclaimed actor and screenwriter

The giant polar bear

Emma Thompson is first of many to break legal injunction by sticking polar bear paw print onto the Shell building in protest against Arctic drilling.

As part of the protest, 64 activists and puppeteers have also manoeuvred a giant polar bear puppet the size of a double decker bus to rest just metres away from Shell’s front entrance. The intention is that the polar bear titan will remain fixed there until Shell’s Arctic drilling window ends later this month. Six protesters are inside the bear, locked to her so she can’t be removed.

The roar of Aurora

The three-tonne polar bear, named Aurora after the northern lights above the Arctic, has been thundering a polar bear roar through Shell’s front door at intervals throughout her stay – demanding Shell turn off its drilling rigs and get out of her Arctic home.

‘We’re a determined bunch and spirits are high. It makes sense to me that this giant polar bear has come to London, because Arctic drilling affects all of us, not just the people who live in the Arctic. It’s outrageous that a company headquartered in the UK is getting away with doing something this bad for the planet. I feel like because it’s a UK company, we’ve got a big responsibility here to stop them.’

Patrick Earls, activist

One month to strike oil

Two weeks ago, the Obama Administration gave Shell the final permissions to begin drilling into the Arctic seabed. It now has until 28 September to strike oil, at which time it must close up its operation for the winter.

Shell is there right now, boring holes to look for new oil reserves. It’s got a window of mere weeks to strike oil and billions of dollars are on the line.

But every second it drills it’s risking an oil spill in icy waters that would be almost impossible to clean up – and potentially disastrous for the people and unique wildlife that call the Arctic home.

75% chance of a spill

The extreme Arctic conditions, including giant floating icebergs and stormy seas, make offshore drilling extremely risky. The US administration acknowledged a 75% chance of a large oil spill over the lifetime of the wells, and experts say that an oil spill in the Arctic would be almost impossible to clean up adequately.

Researchers concluded Arctic drilling is incompatible with limiting global warming to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, a target agreed by most governments. An analysis of Shell’s own data has shown the company is betting on a four-degree temperature rise by the middle of the century – twice the increase described as ‘dangerous’ by scientists.

Charlotte Church joins protest

Last week Charlotte Church performed the song ‘This Bitter Earth’ outside the Shell HQ in protest at the Arctic drilling programme. Her performance was part of a month-long series of orchestral protests held outside the building by musicians.

In recent weeks, other figures from the arts and entertainment world such as Peter Capaldi, John Hurt and Maisie Williams spoke out against Arctic drilling. Public figures such as Al Gore, Hillary Clinton and the Archbishop of Canterbury have also expressed concerns about Arctic oil drilling.

Click here to find out more about Greenpeace’s Arctic Roar campaign.

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