Activists climb London's Shard skyscraper in dramatic protest over Arctic drilling


LONDON -- Six environmental activists were attempting to the climb the 1,017-foot Shard skyscraper Thursday in a dramatic protest against drilling in the Arctic by oil companies.

Three of the six Greenpeace women activists who were climbing Europe's tallest building, the Shard, in London, Thursday. Facundo Arrizabalaga / EPA

Campaign group Greenpeace said the women hoped to affix an artwork to the top of the tower, which is Western Europe’s tallest building.

The group said the activists, from Britain, Canada, Sweden, Poland, the Netherlands and Belgium, chose the 72-story skyscraper because it was close to the London offices of oil company Royal Dutch Shell.

"They don't want us talking about their plan to drill in the Arctic. We're here to shout about it from the rooftops," Greenpeace said in a statement.

The "#iceclimb” stunt was being live-streamed by the activists, who were carrying helmet-mounted cameras and who paused during the climb to post pictures to Twitter.

“The trains below look like tiny electric worms,” activist Victoria Henry posted to Twitter during a break from the ascent.

It also provided a remarkable spectacle for commuters during London’s morning rush hour, many of whom stopped to look up and take their own pictures.

“For me this is a personal act of bravery, and I hope that it can encourage anyone hesitating about taking action - no matter what scale - to take that step today,” Henry wrote in a blog post explaining the action.

In a statement to NBC’s U.K. partner ITV News, Shell said: “The Arctic region currently produces about 10 percent of the world's oil and 25 percent of its gas. We respect the right of individuals and organizations to engage in a free and frank exchange of views about our operations.

“Recognizing the right of individuals to express their point of view, we only ask that they do so with their safety and the safety of others, including Shell personnel and customers, in mind.”

Built at a cost of $2.35 billion in tough economic times, the Shard contains floor space equivalent to 31.4 acres -- or close to 15 football fields.

Its name derives from its distinctive design, comprising more than 11,000 angular glass panels - each resembling shards of glass.

Visitors must pay between $40 (£25) and $160 to take elevators to the observation platform, which offers clear-day views of up to 40 miles.