Kumi Naidoo boards the Leiv Eiriksson
In May 2011, Greenpeace volunteers from nine countries boarded the 53,000 tonne Leiv Eiriksson rig in the freezing waters west of Greenland to demand that UK company Cairn Energy publish its plan for dealing with an oil spill in the Arctic. Though the activists were arrested, their actions sparked worldwide attention, and mounting pressure, with more than 100,000 people signing a petition calling for the document be released. The Greenland Government finally published the plan in August.
On Tuesday, they have been found guilty of trespassing and fined by a Greenland Court, after they scaled one of the world’s biggest oil rigs. In addition, 18 of the activists were also found guilty of breaking the security zone around the rig.
One of the activists, Ben Ayliffe, explains why they took action:
"The Arctic is unique. Its remoteness, sheer scale and all-too-obvious fragility touches something deep within us. Even people who live thousands of miles from the Pole have an almost spiritual attachment to the place.
Yet the region is fundamentally changing, warming faster than almost any other part of our planet. Arctic melting is disturbing the delicate equilibrium of the High North, threatening the way of life of hundreds of thousands of people who have lived there for millennia. Wildlife is now critically threatened as the world’s air conditioning system goes into meltdown.
But this barely registers with the oil industry. Instead of a shrinking ice cap they see dollar signs, drilling in increasingly remote, freezing seas even though an oil spill would cause catastrophic damage.
This is why we took peaceful direct action to board Cairn Energy’s rig off Greenland. We were not prepared to sit idly by whilst oil companies rush in to extract more of the oil that is causing the Pole to melt in the first place. Turning the other cheek means leaving a world for our children where an ice-bound North Pole is just a memory.
This isn’t an option.
This is why our campaign to keep the oil industry out of the Arctic will continue."