- By Brendan Morgan
A colossal yet lovable polar bear puppet the size of a double decker descended on Shell’s South Bank headquarters overnight on the 2nd of September 2015. After admiring the installment for the past week each time I pass by on the way to work in The International’s office on the same street, the time has come to investigate the deeper meaning behind what has quickly become a tourists attraction.
Acclaimed British actor and screenwriter Emma Thompson joined 64 activists and puppeteers who manoeuvred the towering creature to rest just metres away from Shell’s front entrance.
It’s intended the polar bear titan will remain fixed there until Shell’s Arctic drilling window ends on the 28th of this month. Six protesters are inside the bear, locked to her so she can’t be removed.
Early on the morning of the 2nd, standing with the giant bear in front of Shell’s HQ, Emma performed an original poem to Shell bosses that she has penned for the occasion.
The 3 ton polar bear, named Aurora after the northern lights above the Arctic, can be heard thundering a polar bear roar through Shell’s front door at intervals throughout her stay – demanding Shell turn off its drilling rigs and get out of her Arctic home. Audrey Siegl, a First Nations activist from Canada, will be performing a traditional song with the same drum she used to confront Shell’s Arctic-bound rig at sea in June.
Just over two weeks ago Shell got the final permits it needs to start drilling for oil in the melting Arctic Ocean. Shell is there right now, hastily boring holes to look for new oil reserves. It’s got a window of mere weeks to strike oil and billions of dollars are on the line. But every second it drills it’s risking an oil spill in icy waters that would be almost impossible to clean up and potentially disastrous for the people and unique wildlife that call the Arctic home. Many indigenous peoples, settlements and unique and endangered wildlife ecosystems could face total catastrophe at any point during the hazardous expedition.
Shell has already spent $6 bn, and is expected to spend a further $1 bn this year on Arctic exploration.
Greenpeace UK Arctic campaigner Elena Polisano said:
“Arctic drilling is a threat to the Arctic and a threat to millions of people living on the frontline of climate change, yet Shell is ignoring all this in blind pursuit of profit. Shell says we don’t want to have a debate with them about the world’s energy needs, but we’ve asked them several times to meet and they‘ve refused. We’d be very interested to hear how they think putting the world on track for a four-degree temperature rise by the middle of the century is going to benefit the people of this planet.”
Here at The International we are not going to start the debate here regarding to which nation(s) the Arctic territories belong, but it most certainly is not the Oil Industry.
To join the debate come and visit Aurora the bear at SE1 7NA London.