The day the world came together to defend the Arctic

18 September 2013

By Kumi Naidoo On Sunday, something incredible happened. I got on my bike. I cycled around Washington, DC and 14,000 people came with me, in over 106 cities, in 36 countries, in every continent around the world. I joined the biggest demonstration ever in defence of the Arctic. And this was just a taste of what our movement can do.


People across the world poured into the streets to celebrate the Arctic and stand up to big oil. Oil giants, like Shell and Gazprom, want to drill for the first time in the high Arctic as the ice retreats. But an oil spill in icy waters would be impossible to clean up, it would devastate the fragile ecosystems, and more oil means more climate change. It’s madness.

The poles are warming faster than anywhere on the planet. As I write now, the Arctic sea ice is nearing another historic low level. But Sunday’s events gave me enormous confidence that we can stop the international oil giants before they properly begin.

On September 15, in 1971, a small group set sail to stop nuclear testing, launching the global Greenpeace movement. Now, exactly 42 years later, thousands of us around the world have come together to show our collective strength and commitment.

Over 1000 riders took part in Ice Ride in Santiago, Chile. In Thailand, the Ice Ride ended in a mass mangrove planting session. Russians rode through 11 different cities. And in London in Britain, ‘Aurora’, the world’s largest polar bear puppet, paraded to the Shell headquarters, with thousands of committed individuals. The events felt exciting and powerful, filled with the kind of energy that comes from determined collective action.

The global movement to protect the Arctic is growing fast; in just a year, almost four million people have signed up to Save the Arctic. The race to save this magical place from the exploitation of the oil industry will take all of our united strength and commitment. We can’t afford to lose.

Join the global movement to save the Arctic, and support the call for a ban on oil drilling and industrial fishing in the Arctic, and a global sanctuary around the North Pole.