Dutch anti-fossil fuel protesters read Shell the riot act
Environmental group Code Red disrupts the energy giant’s AGM, and vows to ‘proactively target sites of decision and power of the fossil-fuel industry’
The Hague — A group of environmental activists tried to disrupt Royal Dutch Shell’s annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday, calling for this year’s gathering to be the company’s last.
About 20 activists from Dutch environmental action group Code Rood (Code Red) dressed in red jumpsuits held up banners with the slogan “Shut down fossil power” and jeered at passing shareholders as they stood outside the energy giant’s meeting in the seaside town of Scheveningen near The Hague.
Inside the venue, a spokesperson for Code Red, Talissa Soto, addressed the board, saying Shell’s business cannot be reconciled with global warming and the only solution is for its business model “to become history”.
“We will tax you, regulate you, split you up ... today you are witnessing the last-ever Shell AGM,” she said.
Shell CEO Ben van Beurden told the meeting that the company wanted to do the right thing, but the energy industry could not work alone.
“Our company wants to be on the right side of history and we are doing everything that is needed, but we cannot do it alone and, as a matter of fact, even the entire energy industry cannot do it on its own,” he said. “If we cannot do it together with customers, regulators, policy makers, it’s just not going to happen. That’s why I think we have to all try to step up, rather than accusing, polarising and using very unhelpful stances.”
The Anglo-Dutch company drew rare praise from investors and environmental activists in December when it set out plans to introduce industry-leading targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and link them to executive pay.
But the activists said on Tuesday that Shell invests too heavily in the extraction of fossil fuels, the use of which is blamed for carbon emissions that cause climate change.
“Of the billions that Shell invests, more than 95% continues to go to the extraction of oil and gas,” while shareholders “opted for short-term profit at the expense of people and the climate,” Code Red said in a statement. It vowed to “escalate our actions by proactively targeting sites of decision and power of the fossil-fuel industry”.
A number of protesters also tried to disrupt rival BP’s annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday in Aberdeen, Scotland, shouting “this is a crime scene”.