London – Oil giant Shell was forced to temporarily suspend its annual general meeting (AGM) Tuesday when it was disrupted by climate change activists.
Proceedings at the venue in central London were halted about half an hour after they started. “Stop kidding yourself that you are doing no harm,” protesters shouted at stockholders, according to a live feed of the meeting. “Think of your children and your family. They will not escape the effects of the climate emergency.”
Demonstrators sang “We will, we will stop you!” to the tune of Queen’s 1977 rock anthem “We Will Rock You” before police arrived and they were ejected.
Some glued themselves to seats, The Guardian reports.
Outside, another group of protesters sang and shouted slogans such as “shame on Shell” and holding signs saying the company is “guilty of ecocide,” meaning killing the environment. AGM chairman Andrew Mackenzie apologized to delegates after trying in vain to persuade the protesters to wait for discussion of a resolution about a climate transition plan. The activist group Money Rebellion said more than 70 people took part in the protest, which was part of a wider call for action against Shell over its climate action plan.
Money Rebellion is associated with the climate protest group Extinction Rebellion, the Reuters news agency reports.
“We’re here to embarrass them and hold them account for as much as we can. They know what’s going on. We’re not here to educate them,” Money Rebellion’s Aidan Knox said, according to Reuters.
The Guardian quotes a Shell spokesperson as saying, “We respect the right of everyone to express their point of view and welcome any engagement on our strategy and the energy transition which is constructive. However, this kind of disruption at our AGM is the opposite of constructive engagement “
“We agree that society needs to take urgent action on climate change. Shell has a clear target to become a net zero emissions business by 2050.”
The group previously disrupted AGMs of the banks HSBC, Barclays and Standard Chartered.
On Monday, a Shell consultant resigned and accused the oil giant in an email of “failing on a massive planetary scale” to limit climate risks. Caroline Dennett, a UK-based safety consultant, said the company continued extraction of oil and gas was causing “extreme harm” to the planet. In response, the company said it had short, medium and long-term objectives to reach net zero and was committed to reducing its carbon footprint. Billions of dollars have already been invested in low-carbon energy, although the transition from oil and gas would take decades, a spokeswoman told AFP. HSBC has meanwhile suspended a top executive for playing down the impact of climate change in a recent presentation.
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