Climate change protesters were dragged away as they tried to storm the stage at Shell’s shareholder meeting Tuesday, while activist investors added pressure with a resolution demanding the global oil and gas giant beef up its emissions strategy.
Shell Chairman Andrew Mackenzie could not start the meeting for more than an hour as dozens of protesters stood up, chanting and singing “Shut down Shell" and “Go to hell, Shell.” Several who tried to run onto the stage were stopped and carried out of the room by security guards at a London's ExCel conference center.
The activists, including members of Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion, say Shell and other fossil fuel firms are making record profits at the cost of the environment.
Shell reported a record $39.9 billion profit for 2022. Fossil fuel companies have posted bumper earnings as global oil and natural gas prices soared after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, driving up inflation and helping create a cost-of-living crisis.
That sparked public anger in the U.K., where millions of households and businesses have struggled to cope with soaring energy bills.
“Shell is continuing to drill new oil and gas fields here in the U.K. and around the world in some of the most biodiverse regions in the Philippines and in the Niger Delta," said Carina Manitius, 27, a protester from the group Fossil Free London.
"So we’re here to say, ‘Business as usual cannot continue and we’re going to shut you down,’” Manitius said.
Shell said it respected people's right to express their opinions but that “protesters have shown that they are not interested in constructive engagement.”
Activist investors brought forward a shareholder resolution calling for Shell to strengthen its goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, saying its current target doesn’t align with the Paris climate agreement aimed at limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2030.
Shareholders rejected the proposal. Shell executives said its climate targets are aligned with the Paris agreement's more ambitious goal of limiting the increase in the global average temperature to 1.5 C.
Mark van Baal, founder of the Dutch activist investor group Follow This that proposed the resolution, said Shell was misleading investors by saying it doesn't have to cut emissions to meet the goals.
“Fellow shareholders, your company will only change if you vote for change,” he said.
A statement supporting the shareholder resolution says the energy and climate crises can be addressed simultaneously by investing windfall profits from high oil and gas prices in other energy sources.