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Shell AGM: climate protest to target firm’s first London shareholder meeting (Friends of the Earth & Defund Climate Chaos press release)

news release

Shell AGM: climate activists to stage protest outside company’s first investor meeting since moving HQ to the UK

  • Rally to take place from 9am outside Central Hall Westminster
  • Renewed calls for a windfall tax on company’s vast profits as people struggle to pay high energy bills
  • Activists to lay wreaths as part of a climate justice memorial commemorating the lives and livelihoods destroyed due to Shell’s practices – photos to be shared here
  • Spokespeople available for interviews

No new fossil fuels – not here, not anywhere: that is the message climate activists will send to Shell executives and shareholders entering the company’s first annual meeting since moving its headquarters to London.

As delegates arrive at the conference on Tuesday 24th May 2022, protesters will gather outside Central Hall in Westminster to tell Shell that its planet-wrecking practices won’t escape scrutiny in the UK, and that its profit-hungry pursuit of further oil and gas extraction is incompatible with a safe and liveable future.

The rally, coordinated by Defund Climate Chaos – a coalition of groups including Friends of the Earth, Fossil Free London, Tipping Point and Stop Cambo – will be led with speeches from Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Netherlands), Fuel Poverty Action and the Green MP Caroline Lucas, with accompaniment from a drumming band.

Funeral wreaths spelling out the words “Remember, Rise, Resist” will then be laid symbolically as part of a climate justice memorial, honouring the lives worldwide that have been impacted and lost through decades of Shell’s polluting. We’ll hear the stories of activists who resisted Shell’s exploration for oil and gas off the coast of South Africa, as well as communities directly impacted by the company’s devastating pollution in Nigeria.

Following a landmark ruling in the Netherlands last year in which the oil giant was ordered to slash its carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, Shell recently relocated its operations from The Hague to the UK capital. Despite claiming to “strongly support” the internationally-binding climate treaty, the fossil fuel giant has chosen to channel its corporate might into overturning the ruling instead of winding down its oil and gas businesses, once again delaying climate action.

Meanwhile, Shell has unveiled plans to plough millions in new fossil fuel investment into the UK by re-applying to develop the Jackdaw oil field in the North Sea. This ignores warnings from scientists that no new oil and gas fields can be developed if global temperature rise is to remain within 1.5 degrees. Nor will developing new fields significantly bring down volatile energy prices.

And as energy bills soar to new heights while people in the UK feel the bite of the cost of living crisis, Shell is just one of number of fossil fuel firms posting record profits. The company’s Chief Executive recently admitted that a windfall tax on the company’s excess profits would not necessarily deter investment in the UK, which is reason enough for the UK government to make this the moment the polluters pay.

Not only could the money raised be used to help the millions of British people struggling now to pay high energy bills, a windfall tax on profiting fossil fuel companies like Shell could be used to help fund a free street-by-street insulation programme to upgrade the country’s inefficient housing stock – one of the cheapest and quickest ways to bring down expensive bills.

On Tuesday 24th May, join climate activists outside the Shell AGM from 9am onwards to tell investors and company directors that Shell can no long plunder the Earth’s resources with impunity at the expense of people and planet.

Connor Schwartz, climate lead at Friends of the Earth, said:

“Energy giants like Shell have recently announced record profits, meanwhile people across the UK are grappling with impossibly high energy bills that leave many wondering how they’ll keep the lights on, or mouths fed.

“With living standards declining so rapidly and inflation hitting new highs, it’s not right that oil and gas companies continue to rake in these vast earnings.

“There’s a clear solution that will bring down bills fast, and that’s insulating the UK’s heat-leaking homes. By taxing the excess profits of Shell and others like it, the government can support struggling households and help fund a free street-by-street insulation programme which would be a much-needed lifeline for those most in need.”

Joanna Warrington, climate activist at Fossil Free London, said: 

“London is the home to corporations exporting loss and damage everywhere. London has a rich, toxic history of money fuelled climate breakdown, from colonialism to today, creating injustice for communities across the globe. From Nigeria to the Philippines Shell’s oil and gas expansion is throwing people into the fire. We, as Londoners, will resist Shell’s new Headquarters in our city and the presence of all fossil fuel industry bosses who contaminate our nature, disrupt our lives with their climate destruction and threaten our futures. Shell is not welcome here and not welcome anywhere.”

Lauren McDonald, climate activist at Stop Cambo, said:

“The Shell AGM protest is an opportunity to demand that bankers and investors stop funding a dying industry, which is a drain on our economies and our planet’s resources. But it is also a chance for people to come together to mourn and pay their respects to the lives that have been lost and the ecological damage that has already been done by Shell. By bringing this protest to Shell’s doorstep, we will make certain that the devastation they have caused will not be forgotten or ignored.”

Nine de Pater, campaigner at Milieudefensie (FoE Netherlands), said:

“It is clear that Shell’s emissions will not decrease enough with their current policy and may even increase. This is a conscious decision by Shell’s Board, even when there is such little time left to prevent runaway climate change. For this they can be held liable.

“Millions of people around the world are suffering from increasingly extreme weather events: droughts, fires, floods and other climate impacts. Yet Shell seems to think it is above the law and does not need to implement the orders of a Dutch court to reduce its emissions. This is morally wrong and economically risky.”

Alagoa Morris, program manager at Environmental Rights Action (Friends of the Earth Nigeria), said:

“Shell’s Corporate Social Responsibility, is more like Corporate Social Irresponsibility. The ecological debts which ensued from Shell’s negative environmental practices over the years are waiting to be cleared by Shell. In the Ikarama community in Nigeria, sites Shell claim to have cleaned up are oozing crude oil from the ground. Shell never did proper clean up and remediation.

“There will be no hiding place for Shell; we shall follow Shell up bumper to bumper until the right things are done. Shell is culpable and should take responsibility.”

ENDS

For more information and interview requests contact the Friends of the Earth press office on 020 7566 1649 or email media@foe.co.uk.

Notes to editors

1. The protest will take place from 9am outside Central Hall Westminster, where the Shell Annual General Meeting is due to take place. For more information, please visit the Defund Climate Chaos website.

2. Speakers at the event include: Nine de Pater, campaigner at Milieudefensie (FoE Netherlands), Green MP Caroline Lucas, and campaigners from Stop Cambo and Fuel Poverty Action.

3. Spokespeople from Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Milieudefensie (FoE Netherlands), Fossil Free London and Stop Cambo will be available for interview.

4. Photos from the climate justice memorial will be made available here following the protest. High resolution images can be shared via WeTransfer on request.

5. The Times recently reported that while Shell has ‘appealed for “policy stability” to support its proposed investments of up to £25 billion in Britain this decade’ a windfall tax would not necessarily halt its plans.

6. About Defund Climate Chaos: Defund Climate Chaos is a joint mobilisation by a wide coalition of groups all around the world calling for an immediate end to fossil fuel financing.

7. About Friends of the Earth: Friends of the Earth is an international community dedicated to the protection of the natural world and the wellbeing of everyone in it. We bring together more than two million people in 75 countries, combining people power all over the world to transform local actions into global impact. For more information visit: https://friendsoftheearth.uk/ follow us at @friends_earth, or like our Facebook page. Save paper and send an e-card today, available at http://foe.uk/ecogifting

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