Six women with Greenpeace are scaling the Shard, western Europe's tallest building on Thursday as part of a protest against Royal Dutch Shell oil drilling in the Arctic. Photo: © David Sandison/Greenpeace
LONDON (CNN) -- Six women attempted to climb one of Europe's tallest buildings Thursday to rally against Shell's Arctic drilling plan.
The women from environmental group Greenpeace said they dodged security guards around the London landmark and once on top, they planned to "to hang a huge work of art that captures the beauty" of the Arctic.
"They expect the grueling project to take most of the day," the environmental group, Greenpeace said in a statement. "The lead climbers are 'free climbing' (scaling the building without assistance) but are fixing safety ropes as they progress. They are carrying the huge work of art in backpacks and will install it this afternoon if they reach the summit. "
The six started their climb at dawn and were live streaming the climb.
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They opted to climb The Shard because it towers over the oil giant's global headquarters on the Southbank of the Thames, according to the statement .
"Shell is leading the oil companies' drive into the Arctic, investing billions in its Alaskan and Russian drilling programs," it said. " A worldwide movement of millions has sprung up to stop them, but Shell is refusing to abandon its plans.
The climbers are from the United Kingdom, Canada, Sweden, Poland, Holland and Belgium.
The Shard released a statement it is working with authorities to ensure the climbers' safety.
"Our primary focus is on the safety of the protesters, and of the workers and visitors to our building, which remains open today," The Shard said in a statement.
Greenpeace's environmental campaign aims to turn the area around the North Pole into a global sanctuary and unavailable to industrialization.
Shell defended its Arctic drilling.
"Oil and gas production from the Arctic is not new.," it said in a statement. "The Arctic region currently produces about 10% of the world's oil and 25% of its gas. If responsibly developed, Arctic energy resources can help offset supply constraints and maintain energy security for consumers throughout the world."
Of the protests, the oil giant said it respects the freedom of expression.
"We only ask that they do so with their safety and the safety of others, including Shell personnel and customers in mind," Shell said.
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