6 women climb Europe’s tallest skyscraper in protest of Arctic oil, towering over Shell offices in London
by Cassady Craighill
July 11, 2013
© David Sandison / Greenpeace
A group of artists and activists has evaded security guards at the base of the Shard and is now climbing up the outside of Western Europes tallest sky-scraper. If the six women reach the top – 310m above the pavement – they will attempt to hang a huge work of art that captures the beauty of the Arctic.
They chose to climb the Shard because it towers over Shells three London offices, including the oil giants global headquarters on the Southbank of the Thames. Shell is leading the oil companies drive into the Arctic, investing billions in its Alaskan and Russian drilling programmes. A worldwide movement of millions has sprung up to stop them, but Shell is refusing to abandon its plans.
The Greenpeace volunteers began their climb at4amthis morning, and if they succeed which is far from certain they expect the gruelling project to take most of the day. The lead climbers are free climbing (scaling the building without assistance) but are fixing safety ropes as they progress. They are carrying the huge work of art in backpacks and will install it this afternoon if they reach the summit.
Shell operates out of its Thameside global headquarters; from its UK headquarters in Shell Mex House on the Strand; and from ten floors in Canary Wharf. The Shard sits between all three, andwas designed by architect Renzo Piano to resemble a shard of ice, making it the perfect site for an Arctic art installation.
The climbers are live-streaming from helmet cameras, with birds-eye views of their ascent being broadcast live here. If they can hang the Arctic artwork it will be the highest successful installation art project since Philippe Petit tightrope-walked between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in 1974 – a feat made famous in the film Man on Wire.