Green protests taken to new heights in London-based action - Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 11 July

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 11 July

Green protests taken to new heights in London-based action

Six Greenpeace activists have caught the attention of Londoners today, attempting to scale Europe's tallest building, The Shard, in protest against oil and gas drilling in the Arctic.

The climbers, who come from across Europe, accessed the 72-storey building from the roof of the neighbouring London Bridge station in the early hours of the morning. They hope that their climb will fuel debate about drilling in the Arctic by oil company Shell.

Greenpeace said that the activists deliberately chose the building – the tallest in Western Europe – because it was designed to resemble a shard of ice. It also offers a view of Shell's London offices.

The protests come as US secretary of state John Kerry promises that climate change will be prominent among the discussions at the annual US-Chinese strategic dialogue, which began this week.

Together, the two countries account for more than 40 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. But, last month, US president Barack Obama and Chinese premier Xi Jinping agreed to work together to reduce the production of hydrofluorocarbons, the powerful climate pollutants used in air-conditioners and refrigerators.

And scientists in Sweden claim that they have found a way to remove such emissions from the atmosphere altogether. They say that burning trees and crops for energy and then capturing their carbon emissions could push atmospheric temperatures down two degrees, which would avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Meanwhile, the Greenpeace activists climb on. They are scaling the building without assistance, instead using its ladder-like edges. If they reach the top, they hope to display a huge work of art, which depicts the beauty of the Arctic.

Victoria Henry, a 32-year-old from London, was happy to be roped into the stunt. "I'm over the moon that I can play any part in the mass resistance to this horrifying practice," she said.

"Am I scared? Hell, yeah I'm scared. But I know that fear is only what you make of it…The thought of an oil spill in the Arctic makes me sick."

Shell has said that gas and oil production in the Arctic is not new: the region currently produces about 10 per cent of the world's oil, and a quarter of its gas.

"Shell has been operating in the Arctic and sub-Arctic since the early 20th century, giving us the technical experience and know-how to explore for and produce oil and gas responsibly," a spokesperson said.


  • What is an "activist"?
  • Who are Greenpeace? What are they known for?
  • Scaling The Shard is an example of "direct action". What does this mean?
  • Do you think we do enough in our school to protect the environment? What else could we do to help?

Related resources

Climate change

  • Explore the effects of the enhanced greenhouse effect in this lesson on climate change.

Introduction to the Arctic

  • Ideal for primary students, this resource pack contains planning for a unit of the Arctic and the consequences of the changing climate.

Oil spill

  • Show pupils the devastation that can be caused by an oil spill with this BBC Class Clips video on the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska.

What makes protest effective?

  • Help your students understand the Greenpeace activists' demonstration better with these secondary resources on protesting.

Further news resources

First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

In the news this week

They have become a depressing but almost permanent fixture of social networking sites, bent on causing hurt and distress to other users seemingly for no reason. They are internet "trolls".

As, no doubt, you'll have noticed, he's done it. Andy Murray has won Wimbledon.

After days of unrest and mass demonstrations, Egypt's first democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi has been ousted as leader of the Middle Eastern country by the army.

Buttercup, a one-legged duck born in a school biology lab, has had a prosthetic foot printed, using the latest three-dimensional technology.

In the news archive index

Cloak of anonymity lifted from internet 'trolls' - Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 10 July