10 held after Greenpeace activists attempt anti-BP container protest

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.

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.

Greenpeace protest outside BP headquarters
Greenpeace protest outside BP headquarters

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.

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.”

The specially reinforced containers
The specially reinforced containers

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.

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.”

Greenpeace protest outside BP headquarters
Greenpeace protest outside BP headquarters

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.

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 16 billion US dollars (£12.6 billion) adding to its oil and gas reserves in 2018.

Greenpeace said only 500 million dollars (£392 million) was invested in alternatives to fossil fuels.

BP said: “We welcome discussion, debate, even peaceful protest, on the important matter of how we must all work together to address the climate challenge, but impeding safe entry and exit from an office building in this way is dangerous and clearly a matter for the police to resolve as swiftly as possible.”