Peaceful BP protest shut down by police

| 20th May 2019
'The police are right to treat the area like a crime scene. But the real crime is not what our volunteers are doing...'

BP has spent millions lobbying against the exact climate action that we need.

Police have made 10 arrests after environmental campaigners attempted to block access to BP's offices by locking themselves in containers.

Greenpeace volunteers were due to spend a week locked inside the reinforced boxes as part of protests over the oil giant's lack of action on climate change.

Protesters arrived at the company's offices in St James' Square, central London, at around 3am on Monday to set up the container blockade.

Business

Scotland Yard said officers were called to the scene shortly after 4am following a report of protesters scaling a building.

Activists were warned they were trespassing and risked arrest under the Public Order Act. Ten people were arrested for aggravated trespass and all remain in custody, police said.

Officers made the final arrests at about 7.40pm and are maintaining a presence at the scene, despite no protesters remaining.

Campaigners are demanding that BP immediately ends all exploration for new oil and gas and switches to investing only in renewable energy.

If it does not, Greenpeace is calling for it to wind down its operations completely and go out of business.

Excuses

Greenpeace climate campaigner Mel Evans said: "The police are right to treat the area like a crime scene. But the real crime is not what our volunteers are doing but what they're trying to stop.

"Oil giants like BP are fuelling a climate emergency that's threatening the lives of millions of people.

"Business as usual means mass extinction, massive economic damage, and a barely habitable planet. It's simply not an option."

Ms Evans said BP was "running out of excuses" and would be met by "opposition wherever they go".

Morten Thaysen, 31, warned BP that Greenpeace activists would be in Aberdeen on Tuesday with other environmental groups for the start of the company's annual general meeting.

Abseiled

He told the Press Association: "I think it has dawned on a lot of us that this isn't something that will only affect the next generation, it is affecting us now.

"It is taking politicians a long time to respond to our climate emergency because of companies like this. BP has spent millions lobbying against the exact climate action that we need.

"It's all about greed and making as much money as possible. And whether we have a liveable planet in the next 10 years does not matter to them."

Each container at the protest had enough space for two activists who would have nothing but a week's worth of supplies and access to Netflix to while away the time inside.

Discussion

Earlier on Monday, other Greenpeace volunteers abseiled off the building to unfurl a banner reading "Climate Emergency".

BP staff were sent home while police officers cordoned off roads leading to St James' Square, allowing access only to people working in neighbouring buildings. Road closures have now been lifted, Scotland Yard said.

According to Greenpeace research, BP is outspending other oil giants on lobbying campaigns against climate action and spent £12.6 billion adding to its oil and gas reserves in 2018.

Greenpeace said only £392 million was invested in alternatives to fossil fuels. A spokesperson for BP said: "We welcome discussion."

This Author

Tess de la Mare is a reporter for the Press Association.

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