Six Greenpeace non-violent direct actions

Taking non-violent direct action is an important part of how Greenpeace achieves change. From climbing a power station to performing a concert in a museum, direct action can take many forms! Here are six actions to give a flavour of what they can look like.


North Sea oil rig occupation

June 2019 • Climate Emergency campaign

A crew of Greenpeace activists set out to stop a BP oil rig setting out drill a new well in the North Sea.

Occupying a platform on the side of the rig, the climbers had enough supplies for several days. But with some sneaky re-supplying from the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, they stayed in place for two full weeks.

Greenpeace Climbers on BP Oil Rig

Greenpeace climber Meena Rajput occupying the BP oil rig in Cromarty Firth, Scotland. © Greenpeace

Greenpeace climbers and boat drivers were arrested and went to court in Scotland, where they received community service sentences.

A pop-up doctor’s surgery at Volkswagen HQ

October 2018 • Ditch Diesel campaign

Activists accompanied by real doctors shut down Volkswagen’s head office. They transformed it into a doctors surgery, offering real tests to the car company’s staff.

Activists dressed as patients chained themselves in front of the doors for several hours. They were arrested and charged with aggravated trespass.

Gatecrashing the ‘bankers banquet’

July 2019 • Climate Emergency campaign

On July 2019, activists interrupted chancellor Philip Hammond as he gave a speech to the UK’s top city bosses.

The activists read their own climate emergency speech and disrupted the dinner on live television. Nobody was arrested.

Monkey business at Burger King HQ

September 2019 • Save the Amazon campaign

Activist performers dressed as spider monkeys and their minders communicated with Burger King customers outside their flagship restaurant in London’s Leicester Square.

Burger King buys huge quantities of meat and soya from Brazil, where farmers are deliberately burning the Amazon Rainforest to make way for more ranches and plantations.

Climbers unfurled a giant banner calling on Burger King to stop ‘flame grilling’ the Amazon, artists down below created a chalk mural where members of the public were encouraged to write a message to Burger King.

Bringing a carnival to an oil company meeting

June 2018 • Amazon Reef campaign

French oil company Total were planning a risky new drilling operation near the beautiful Amazon Reef off the coast of Brazil. Over 200 activists from around the world invaded Total’s Annual General Meeting in Paris, turning it into a Brazilian-style carnival, and alerting shareholders to the dangers of Total’s plan. 

Three activists in climbing gear from the ceiling of a large auditorium, holding circular signs with campaign slogans in multiple languages.

Greenpeace activists protest against TOTAL’s plans to drill near the Amazon Reef. © Guenole Le Gal / Greenpeace

Climbers (who’d been hiding in the conference centre roof before the meeting) dropped giant banners from the ceiling, while a colourful, hundred-strong samba band started playing on the conference floor. Outside, more climbers placed banners around the entrance, while volunteers gave out leaflets to passers-by. 

No UK activists were arrested, but some activists were treated roughly by the private security team at the conference. 

After two years of campaigning, Brazilian authorities eventually denied Total a license to drill in the area.

A climate emergency at BP’s head office

May 2019 • Climate Emergency campaign

In the small hours of the morning, a huge team of activists arrived at BP’s London HQ carrying five large metal boxes. Each box contained two activists and enough food to last for seven days.

They placed the boxes in front of all the doors, and more activists climbed on top while others blocked access to the boxes by attaching to each other with lock-on arm tubes.

After eight hours, the activists on top of the boxes left the scene without being arrested. Several hours later the police cut open the boxes to remove and arrest the activists inside.

Climbers also scaled the front of the office to deploy a banner with the words ‘climate emergency’. The police made them leave earlier than planned, but they still avoided arrest.

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