No Oil Painting protest highlights Arctic drilling plans
Eight environmental protesters from Greenpeace climbed onto the roof of the National Gallery in London yesterday to highlight Shell Oil’s plan to start drilling in the Arctic circle. The coastlines are home to indigenous people and its waters nurture polar bears, beluga whales and walruses. Shell is the first major international oil company to make the exploitation of the Arctic a key focus. If the company strikes oil this summer, it is feared that other global oil giants will join them in drilling in the Arctic wilderness. The total estimated Arctic oil reserves would satisfy just three years of current global oil demand, but would contribute significantly to carbon emissions and pose a grave risk to the local eco-system
The activists unfurled a 40m long banner from the roof showing a picture of an oil rig with the message ‘It’s No Oil Painting’. Scotland Yard said the protesters came down from the building at 20:15. They were all wearing red jump suits and carrying sophisticated mountaineering equipment that allowed them to abseil up and down the early 19th century facade of the gallery. The portico above the main entrance on Trafalgar Square was the focal point as the protesters appeared on the roof in the late afternoon. The activists also deployed a large, life-size electronic model of a polar bear as a publicity stunt, no arrests were made.
The National Gallery is home to thousands of paintings including masterpieces by Georges Seurat, Paul Cezanne, Vincent van Gogh and Leonardo da Vinci. It was hosting the evening event for the energy giant, who some say, have a dubious environmental track record.