Three activists remained hanging off the bridge on ropes but were removed and arrested by 9.30am.
Standing below the bridge, 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".
Early this morning Greenpeace led a protest for Government climate change action by abseiling from the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Photo: 10 News First.
Initially, the abseilers aimed to hang from the bridge until Scott Morrison declared a climate emergency.
"The security on the bridge did respond very quickly but with the volume of people that were there... they prevented quick access".
A number of protesters abseiled from the bridge, carrying signs with various slogans including "100% renewables" and " Make coal history".
About 5.15am (Tuesday 14 May 2019), security staff operating on the Sydney Harbour Bridge observed several people on the bridge.
"The protestors are joined on the ground by Australians from across the country who have had their lives turned upside down by the impacts of climate change".
The federal Labor senator Kristina Keneally said she didn't condone the illegal protest but understood the activists' frustrations. "I call on you to declare a climate emergency now".
Lane eight of the Harbour Bridge was closed for a short period on Tuesday morning but has since reopened.
Greenpeace Australia Pacific chief executive David Ritter dismissed questions about the legality of the protest action.
It's Greenpeace's position that eliminating coal is one of the key ways to manage climate change.