This Tuesday, London’s Exhibition Center (ExCeL) bore witness to a hundred resolute climate activists who crashed Shell’s annual general meeting, their loud demands resounding through the boardroom. The protestors, unwilling to be ignored, seized the chance to condemn Shell’s continuous contribution to our planet’s perilous heating through ongoing fossil fuel extraction.
A band of brave advocates assembled outside the venue, their banners reading “We mourn the lives Shell has taken” and “Shell Profits Kill,” presenting a stark, undeniable message. A contingent of these determined activists even infiltrated the meeting, delaying the event for over an hour.
Their songs and chants rang out through the room, a spirited rendition of “Go to hell, Shell,” to the tune of “Hit the Road, Jack” among them. The message was clear and united: “Shut down Shell.” A group of activists even attempted to claim the stage.
A representative from Fossil Free London stated, “As Shell continues to cause climate chaos, we will continue to do everything in our power to shut down Shell.”
Not all protesters made it to the stage, with security officers intercepting and escorting several individuals out of the venue.
Meanwhile, Shell gloated over its record-breaking profits of 36 billion euros (nearly $40 billion) in 2022. In stark contrast, the End Fuel Poverty Coalition reported that more than seven million people in the UK struggle to afford essential energy services as prices skyrocket in the wake of the Ukraine conflict.
Joanna Warrington of Fossil Free London commented, “People are grappling with escalating energy bills, yet Shell is profiting immensely from fuel poverty and the war in Ukraine. If we want a safe climate and affordable energy, we must halt new oil and gas exploitation. That’s why we’re urging Shell CEO Wael Sawan and other Shell executives to consider more than their swollen paychecks and shut down Shell. If they fail to act, a tidal wave of protest will.”
Clear warnings from the International Energy Agency and climate scientists are hard to ignore, advising an immediate shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources to limit global warming to 1.5°C as per the Paris climate agreement.
One resolute campaigner seized the opportunity to remind the room of the catastrophic events linked to the fossil fuel activities of firms like Shell. “Wildfires across Europe, famine in Madagascar, harvest failures, crop failures,” she listed, underlining the real-world impacts of climate breakdown.
Author and activist Ashok Kumar further drove the point home, saying, “With every new well, every new gas field, every minute that you ignore the warnings of science, people die!”
Shell is beginning to face internal backlash as well, with investors like the Church of England’s retirement fund and the UK government pension fund opposing the re-election of Shell’s chair and questioning its “energy transition” plan.
Olga Hancock, acting head of responsible investment at the Church of England Commissioners, summed it up perfectly: “High energy prices yielded huge profits for oil and gas companies last year — a golden opportunity to invest substantially in the transition to a low carbon economy, an opportunity that was emphatically missed.”