Members of Greenpeace easily breached security and scaled two Parliament buildings in Ottawa to stage a protest on the roof Monday, the opening day of the climate conference in Copenhagen.
The 19 protesters unfurled a massive banner reading "Climate Inaction Costs Lives" as police, fire trucks and ambulances gathered below. Greenpeace spokeswoman Jessica Wilson said it was a protest against the rapid expansion of the massive oil sands mines in northern Alberta.
Industry officials estimate the oil sands could yield as much as 175 billion barrels of oil, making Canada second only to Saudi Arabia in crude oil reserves. But the extraction process produces a high amount of the greenhouse gases blamed for climate change.
"We need to see climate action now because millions of lives really do depend on it," said Greenpeace's Mike Hudema, who spoke on his phone to The Associated Press while hanging in a harness on the side of the West Block building, which houses ministers and members of Parliament.
Fourteen people climbed atop the West Block building and five climbed atop the Senate entrance to the Centre Block building. Twenty people _ including one on the ground _ were arrested and face charges of mischief and possibly more, police said.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are investigating how the protesters in blue jumpsuits and white climbing helmets were able to scale the buildings on Parliament Hill undetected.
"It's an incident that the RCMP is taking very seriously," Cpl. Caroline Poulin said. "It's important for the citizens of this country to have access to Parliament. This is certainly something we want to maintain, but at the same time we have to have appropriate security measures in place."
One possibility is that those on the West Block climbed up scaffolding at the back of the building at about 7:30 a.m. The last of them, dangling from ropes at the edge of the steeply pitched roof, were removed by an aerial fire ladder midmorning.