Protesters storm Shell AGM, accuse it of killing the planet

By Felicia Nwosu

With the struggle to balance investor pressure to capture profits from oil and gas and a vocal minority saying it must move faster to tackle climate change, Wael Sawan, the Chief Executive of Shell and other company directors faced a most acrimonious annual stakeholder meeting as angry climate protesters stormed the high profile gathering and accused the company for killing the planet. They called for the oil company to be shut down.

Reuters’ report stated that it was a chaotic scene as climate activists stormed the venue, accusing Shell of killing the planet. According to the report, uproar broke out when the meeting began its proceedings, after an hour delay, the protesters climbed the stage in scuffles with security agents who bundled them out of the venue while shielding the board members. It noted that it got to a stage where security staff formed a human chain on stage to shield executives and directors from protestors.

The climate protesters were heard screaming with one voice.

“Go to hell, Shell, and don’t you come back no more,” a choir of about a dozen protesters sang as they called for Shell to stop producing fossil fuels, with Sawan and Chairman Andrew Mackenzie watching.

The chairman made an effort to calm them by requesting for a dialogue with the protestors who were “not interested in constructive engagement” and pointed to shell’s plans to become zero carbon company by 2050.

 “We’ve heard this point many times now,” “Wouldn’t it be nice to have this debate rather than saying the same thing over and over again.”

He added that Shell’s investment in lower-carbon solutions that earn smaller returns than oil and gas projects shows it is taking climate change seriously.

Shell, which reported a record $40 billion profit last year, and other major hydrocarbon producers argue that they have to help cover ever-increasing demand for oil and gas.

The company is also contending with an increasingly vocal minority of institutional shareholders saying it must move faster to tackle climate change while balancing pressure from other investors to capture profits from oil and gas.

Preliminary figures showed that a fifth of Shell shareholders voted in favour of the resolution submitted by activist group while calling on the company to set more ambitious emissions targets. The resolution was rejected by Shell’s board.

The resolution echoes a ruling by a Dutch court which told Shell to ramp up its climate targets. Shell has launched an appeal against the ruling.

Shell’s own climate strategy resolution won 80% of the vote, in line with last year.

“The silent majority is being very clear with us as to their expectations … (to) find a balanced transition,” Sawan told reporters after the meeting.


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