Shell’s general shareholders’ meeting was interrupted on Tuesday by protests by several activists, who with shouts, songs and attempts to assault the stage criticized its climate footprint. Members of environmental groups such as Extinction Rebellion or Fossil Fuel London took advantage of the meeting in London to demand that it stop its activity, forcing the eviction of protesters and delaying the vote.
Seconds after the group’s president, Andrew Mackenzie, telematically inaugurated the event, a man sitting in one of the first rows rose from his seat to shout, deliver a speech in which he disgraced the group for its actions “against the wild life”. “They are destroying wildlife. I demand that they close their business,” the man cried. Mackezie asked the activist to sit down and listen to “the views of other members of the Shell community.”
Within five minutes of this first incident a dozen people sitting next to him got up and started a protest song. They sang a song in the auditorium where the refrain was “Go to hell, Shell. And don’t come back.”
After the security employees evicted the activists one by one – some of them elderly – other messages began to be heard from different points of the room in what seemed like a coordinated act. “They are annihilating the planet and killing our children. Shut down the business,” a woman yelled as she was carried away. “Shut up Shell,” launched another. “They don’t realize that we can’t drink oil-stained water and that money can’t be eaten,” another man yelled from the back of the room, while another activist called the president a “liar.”
There were also moments of tension when a group of activists tried to storm the stage where the firm’s executives were, something that was impossible due to the heavy deployment of security personnel.
All these actions ended up delaying the start of the meeting by one hour. In it, the shareholders validated the oil company’s strategy on energy transition to align its guidelines with those of the Paris Agreement, which sets the goal of reaching zero net emissions by 2050, but refused to accelerate the cut in emissions to 2030.