Actress Lucy Lawless is protesting climate change for the sake of her children and future generations.

The activist, aboard the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise off the coast of Norway, said she could not stand by "doing nothing" as the Norwegian government allowed oil drilling company Statoil to drill in the Barents Sea.

"We know beyond a doubt that we can't burn a single barrel of oil from a new well if we are to avoid a climate catastrophe," the former Xena: Warrior Princess actress said.

"I don't ever want to look my kids in the eye and explain why I didn't do all I could to protect them from climate change.

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"It is beyond my understanding that the Norwegian government is giving Statoil a ticket to drill like mad at the expense of future generations."

She said climate change was the greatest threat to humanity.

"The companies driving it must be pursued and stopped - we will confront them in every corner of the world."

Lawless has team up with 10 other activists including climate change survivor and activist Joanna Sustento from the Philippines.

Sustento lost her entire family except for her brother, to Super-typhoon Haiyan in 2013 which left large parts of her hometown, Tacloban, in ruins.

"It is hard for me to grasp and accept that a government like Norway's is opening up new Arctic oil drilling, knowing full well it will put families and homes in other parts of the world at risk," Sustento said.

"I'm here in the Arctic to see this irresponsibility with my own eyes; share my story about the human consequences of climate change; and call on the Norwegian government to put a stop to this dangerous search for new oil," she said.

Up until last month, the state-owned Norwegian firm Statoil was in New Zealand waters where it was prospecting for oil off the Wairarapa Coast using the world's largest seismic surveying ship, the Amazon Warrior.

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At the time Lawless helped Greenpeace crowdfund for a boat, named Taitu, which the environmental organisation used to confront the Amazon Warrior at sea, stopping it from seismic blasting for a period of time.

Three swimmers, including Greenpeace New Zealand executive director Dr Russel Norman, put themselves in the water in front of the Amazon Warrior forcing it to change course and cease blasting for a day.

Both Greenpeace and the trio have been charged under the Anadarko Amendment of the Crown Minerals Act, which makes it illegal to interfere with offshore petroleum or mineral operations. They face jail time and large fines.