Shell’s first UK AGM shutdown by activists

Patience has run out for evil corporation with blood on its hands

At 10.30am on Tuesday May 24th, over 80 people disrupted Shell’s first UK AGM, held at the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster, with the aim of preventing the meeting from going ahead.

A flash mob upstaged the Chairman’s address, singing a revised version of Queen’s “We Will Rock You”. Others glued themselves to chairs and interrupted speeches, with protestors from the UK, Netherlands and Nigeria reading out testimonies accusing Shell of human rights abuses, ecocide, fueling climate breakdown and funding misinformation. Protestors also condemned major investors like BlackRock and Vanguard. Outside, individuals scaled plinths to hang a banner reading “Shell Must Fall: Guilty of Ecocide”.

Protestors came from a number of groups, including Money Rebellion, Extinction Rebellion, Christian Climate Action, Fossil Free London, Shell Must Fall and Stop Ecocide.

The action comes the day after Shell’s senior safety consultant announced her resignation via a bombshell video emailed to company executives and 1400 staff. Caroline Dennett made the decision after seeing an action at Shell’s London HQ in April, where XR’s TruthTeller team asked individual employees to #JumpShip.

Dennett said the fossil fuel giant has a “disregard for climate change risks” and that she “can no longer be a part of it.” Addressing her former colleagues directly she said: “The fossil fuel industry is the past. If you can find a way out, please walk away while there’s still time.” Dennett’s resignation has become a global news story, reported by outlets in 10 countries in three continents.

Shell plans to grow its fossil gas business by 20% in the coming years, including seeking approval from the UK Government for ‘Jackdaw’, a new gas field in the North Sea. The emissions from Jackdaw would be equivalent the annual emissions of Ghana. In May this year, a Guardian investigation found that Shell, along with other oil majors, has plans for oil and gas projects which amount to a ‘carbon bomb’ which would drive the world beyond internationally agreed temperature limits.

This is despite warnings from the UN Secretary General that embarking on new fossil fuel projects is ‘moral and economic madness’. Last year, the International Energy Agency warned that no new coal, oil or gas projects can be developed in order to limit warming to 1.5°C, and last week a report showed that nearly 40% of reserves in already developed fossil fuel sites need to stay in the ground.

Amidst the cost of living and energy crises, in which 1.3 million Britons could be pushed into poverty, Shell made record quarterly profits of $9bn. The company paid no tax on its UK oil and gas production in 2021, and last week, Tory MPs voted down a proposed windfall tax on oil and gas giants.

Outside the AGM, a climate justice memorial was held with speakers including Green Party MP Caroline Lucus, and groups including Stop Cambo, Friends of the Earth, Fuel Poverty Action and the National Union of Students.

Shell’s AGM is the latest to be targeted this spring, after Barclays’, HSBC’s and Standard Chartered’s AGMs were disrupted by Money Rebellion protestors.

Quotes from the groups taking part in the action:

Aidan Knox, student and Money Rebellion activist, said: “Shell’s executives will do anything to keep profits flowing from oil and gas. Shell has delayed climate action by funding climate denial, bribing our governments, and have complicity in the brutal murder of Nigerian land defenders. Climate breakdown is already driving droughts and heatwaves in East Africa and Pakistan, leaving millions on the brink of famine – we need to end fossil fuel expansion. Claims of going green from Shell’s executives and shareholders are just another cynical way to delay urgent climate action, while they take home fat bonuses.”

Marielle from Shell Must Fall, said: “Fossil multinationals like Shell are everywhere, and we should stop their operations wherever they go. At extraction sites, import terminals, pipelines, ships, gas stations, in our politics, education and cultural institutions. Shell must fall. The company and people in responsible positions must be held accountable for damages done and damages still to come. We call for compensation and reparations for impacted communities and ecosystems!

Joanna Warrington from Fossil Free London, said: “We can tackle the climate crisis and the cost-of-living scandal, but Shell is standing in the way. It’s pushing ahead with reckless oil and gas projects that would take us far beyond safe climate limits, like the controversial Jackdaw gas field. As millions of people struggle to pay bills, Shell rakes in record profits by keeping energy prices high and paying zero tax on its UK oil and gas. This government should be turbo-charging investment in renewables and insulation, not handing whopping tax breaks to companies that burn our future for profit.”

Alagoa Morris, program manager at Environmental Rights Action, said: “Shell’s Corporate Social Responsibility, is more like Corporate Social Irresponsibility. The ecological debts which ensued from Shell’s negative environmental practices are waiting to be cleared. In the Ikarama community in Nigeria, sites Shell claim to have cleaned up are oozing crude oil from the ground. There will be no hiding place for Shell; we shall follow, bumper to bumper, until the right things are done.”