“Taking action on climate change is important but people have got to show a bit of consideration to others,” he said.
“For those commuters in Sydney this morning just trying to get across the Harbour Bridge and go to work, earn a living, pay their taxes and save for their first home, let’s show consideration for others.”
One lane of traffic was temporarily closed about 6am but it re-opened minutes later, and police said the protest did not disrupt road traffic or public transport.
The protest was co-ordinated by Greenpeace Australia Pacific, which said the protesters were “specialist trained climbers” who were calling “attention to the climate emergency”.
“Australians who have survived climate disasters have come to the centre of Sydney to demand action because they are sick of being ignored,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific chief executive David Ritter said.
“Our political leaders must listen to those already affected by climate disaster and act. Climate change is also contributing to the global nature crisis with scientists now warning that up to one million species are facing extinction.”
Standing below the bridge on Tuesday morning, Goulburn grazier and Greenpeace supporter Ed Suttle said “to accuse Greenpeace of a minor interruption (to commuters) today when we’re acting on behalf of the entire globe and the Australian population is irrelevant”.
On various social media posts, Greenpeace asked people to sign a petition in support and said “all over Australia, people are waking up to the realities of climate damage”.
The police operation to remove the activists began on Tuesday morning after a “number of people were detected” on the bridge about 5.15am.
While some protesters were initially detained by security personnel, others managed to climb underneath the structure to abseil down the bridge.
Thirteen people have been taken to Day Street and Surry Hills police stations to assist with inquiries.
Natassia is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.