02/09/2015 11:54 BST | Updated 02/09/2016 06:59 BST

Why I'm Crossing the Line to Stop Shell


emma thompson

Emma, her daughter and the polar bear outside Shell's London offices

As London slept last night, my daughter and I helped move a gigantic polar bear through its empty streets. At times we weren't sure if we were fully awake either. There's something dreamlike about the large black eyes of this gentle giant, a mesmerising glimpse of a world beyond. I visited the Arctic last year and it has remained deep in my subconscious ever since. We are here today to stop Shell from drilling in its melting ice. We want them to snap out of this nightmare before it has a chance to take hold.

I didn't build this amazing bear and I'm not a great puppeteer, so my small contribution to today's action was a poem. You can read it here if you like. I tried to imagine what the people inside this building will say to their grandchildren about what they did.

As the world began to realise how big climate change was, and how utterly it was to transform all our lives, they took advantage of the melting ice to find more oil. In one of the world's last wild places they sunk their drills into the seabed looking for a new source of profit. We can ponder the science of climate change, or examine the risks of an oil spill in icy waters.

But at some point we must recognise that this is also a moral issue, a choice that we face as together. At some point we need to draw a line and pick which side we are on. Shell has chalked an invisible line around its building by taking out an injunction against Greenpeace. Today I decided to cross it.

emma thompson

Emma on her life-changing trip to the Arctic last year

I know that I'll be called naive or hypocritical, or both. The world needs oil and we all drive cars. But things are changing at impressive speed. Silicon Valley is building more electric vehicles than you can shake a stick at. Batteries are getting better all the time and soon will be in our homes and businesses.

It's not hard to imagine a future where the petrol pump is a museum exhibit that children will be boggled by. But Shell wants us to believe that this vision of the future is impossible, that renewable energy is a passing fad. In essence they are asking us to trust them to predict the future. A company that has made its billions in oil and gas wants us to believe that fossil fuels are the only thing that will ever work. So here's a tip: don't trust them. They don't have your best interests at heart.

emma thompson

Emma delivering her speech today

Greenpeace says it will keep Aurora here as long as Shell's rig remains in the Arctic. That could be days or weeks from now. My daughter and I will be urging them on alongside millions of people who have joined this movement. I'm proud to be here, proud of my daughter and proud of these passionate people around me.

I refuse to believe that the destruction of our world is inevitable, and that we are powerless to stop companies like Shell from trashing it. Instead I believe that we are coming a defining moment where people begin to claw back power from the corporations who have taken so much. We hear about 'tipping points' for the Arctic, but this one could actually be positive. The beautiful words of Arundhati Roy are echoing around us today: "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing."