Protest Ship in the Arctic; Superglue, Chains and Oil at the Bank

EDINBURGH, Scotland, August 23, 2010 (ENS) – Today’s actions by campaigners against fossil fuels and their investors saw a Greenpeace ship protesting deep sea oil drilling by a British company in Arctic waters confronted by the Danish military and the Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters shut down.

This morning Ben Stewart, a Greenpeace spokesman on board the Esperanza in the Davis Straits between Canada and Greenland, said the ship was encircled by three Danish military inflatable boats with black-clad personnel backed by a Danish warship.

Greenpeace activists approach the Stena Don oil rig, which is guarded by a Danish warship. (Photo courtesy Greenpeace)

The Esperanza is anchored about two kilometers from the deepwater drilling rig Stena Don, one of two exploration wells being drilled off Greenland by the Edinburgh-based oil firm Cairn Energy, one of Europe’s largest independent oil and gas companies.

Stewart said they were warned that the Esperanza would be raided and the captain arrested if the ship breaches the 500 meter security zone surrounding the rig.

Morten Neilsen, the deputy chief of Greenland police, told “The Guardian” newspaper that Greenpeace is remaining outside the security zone. “As far as I know right now they’re doing perfectly legal activities, demonstrating, as it is their right to do,” he said.

The Esperanza left London 12 days ago to confront what Stewart called “dangerous deepwater drilling in the Arctic.”

“It’s not the oil rigs that need protecting,” Greenpeace UK said in a statement today. “We all saw the risks of deepwater drilling with BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The risks in the colder waters of the Arctic are of a different magnitude. The freezing waters mean that any oil spilt takes much longer to break down. Also, the annual freezing of the sea means any ‘relief well’ would take up to three years to drill, leaving the oil gushing out for all that time.”

The confrontation at sea came as climate protesters appeared at Cairn Energy’s headquarters and the offices of Forth Energy in Edinburgh and hundreds of others shut down the headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

At the entrance to Cairn Energy headquarters, they delivered a giant fake piggy bank to symbolize public funds supporting the company’s activities, and spilled molasses to symbolize oil, spraying more on the walls and columns.

The activists said they learned yesterday that Cairn Energy received 117 million pounds of loans and equity last year from the Royal Bank of Scotland, almost half of which directly enabled the drilling off the Greenland coast to begin.

Black-clad activists sprays molasses on the entry to the Cairn office building while another displays a pig symbolizing public money invested in Cairn by the Royal Bank of Scotland. (Photo by Amelia Gregory)

Seven people demonstrated at the Forth Energy building at Leigh against the company’s plans to build four biomass power plants in Scotland. Two scaled the roof to unveil banners linking biomass with climate change and pollution. Three protesters entered Forth’s offices and chained themselves to the furniture while two others chained themselves to the front of the offices.

Climate Camp spokeswoman Maryla Hart said, “Biomass is exacerbating climate change, destroying precious forests and pulling money away from real, sustainable solutions, like energy efficiency measures, wind, solar and tidal power. Forth Energy can expect growing opposition until they scrap the idea of biomass altogether.”

In Gogarburn on the eastern edge of the city, the Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters was the scene of a climate camp that first appeared on Thursday. By Sunday, hundreds of campaigners had gathered.

Over the weekend, activists lay siege to the RBS headquarters with a six-meter (19 foot) tall mock siege tower on wheels with a lifesize papier mache rhinoceros head mounted on the front.

Hundreds of activists in boilers suits stormed the RBS headquarters, catapulting molasses onto the building and attempting to get inside the building. There were two arrests.

A banner was dropped from a building reading “oil tar sands = environmental chaos.” Another banner was dropped over the A8 roadway which read, “RBS: using our money to fuck the planet.”

Campaigners in white biohazard suits dance inside a police circle at the Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters outside Edinburgh. August 22, 2010. (Photo courtesy Climate Camp)

Above a tent protest by North Bridge, demonstrators scaled two stories of scaffolding to drop a banner which read “RBS funds and profits from climate chaos.”

Some of the activists poured molasses and vegetable oil on several Edinburgh roads, angering local residents who said they were endangered by the messy substance.

On Sunday, several hundred activists dressed in white biohazard coveralls invaded the RBS headquarters complex and held a dance party in the foyer. On Friday one activist gained access to the reception area and superglued herself to the front desk.

Today, the RBS headquarters building was shuttered and thousands of employees were told to work at home or take the day off.

Harry Reynolds who took part in the actions, said, “No one came to work today at the RBS Gogarburn headquarters. Since we had already effectively shut that down, we decided to concentrate our energies targeting RBS and its fossil fuel affiliates in the Edinburgh city center.”

At the Royal Bank of Scotland branch on Nicholson Street three activists super-glued themselves across the doorway. Others played music and danced while distributing leaflets. Police made three arrests.

After police took the first group of protestors away, a group of demonstrators covered with molasses again shut down the Nicolson Street bank branch by locking themselves to the building.

Seven protesters superglued themselves to the car park of the RBS industrial estate at the Gyle Shopping Centre.

A group of activists caused the closure of RBS bank branches in Edinburgh by performing a spoof song-and-dance version of Lady Gaga’s number one hit “Pokerface,” rewriting the lyrics to talk about RBS’ funding of fossil fuels. They invaded an RBS-sponsored stage on the Royal Mile and performed the routine for passersby.

A group of 40-50 street theatre activists dramatized how “RBS’ PR masks the reality of its investments” by performing “Greenwash Guerrilla” street theatre at Gogarburn and the Royal Mile. Lothian and Borders Police said they arrested eight people in Edinburgh today.

Reynolds said, “We’ve done a lot to disrupt RBS dirty energy operations today, but we are committed to keeping up the pressure until we manage to cut off the flow of capital from the banks to the fossil fuel industry.”

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