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Security Shielded Shell CEO from Protestors in London

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As climate protesters tried to take to the stage at the energy giant’s annual shareholder meeting in London last week, security shielded Shell CEO, Wael Sawan, and other company directors. 

The meeting commenced following an hour of disturbances, during which security personnel removed protesting individuals from the premises. At one stage, security staff formed a human barrier on stage to protect executives and directors from the protestors.

 

A chorus of demonstrators sang “Go to hell, Shell, and don’t you come back no more,” as they demanded an end to Shell’s fossil fuel production, with Sawan and Chairman Andrew Mackenzie observing.  

Mackenzie addressed the protesters, stating, “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 further emphasized that Shell’s commitment to investing in lower-carbon solutions, which yield lower profits compared to oil and gas projects, demonstrates the company’s serious approach to climate change. Shell, which reported a record profit of USD 40 billion last year, along with other major hydrocarbon producers, argues that they must meet the ever-growing demand for oil and gas. A spokesperson for the company criticized the protestors, claiming they lacked interest in constructive dialogue.  

The spokesperson also highlighted Shell’s plans to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Additionally, Shell faces pressure from a vocal minority of institutional shareholders who urge the company to accelerate efforts in addressing climate change, while other investors emphasize the importance of capitalizing on profits from oil and gas. Preliminary results indicate that one-fifth of Shell shareholders voted in favor of a resolution proposed by the activist group, Follow This, calling for more ambitious emissions targets.  

However, Shell’s board rejected the resolution. This echoes a ruling by a Dutch court, which instructed Shell to intensify its climate targets, after which Shell filed an appeal against the ruling. Shell’s own climate strategy resolution received 80% of the vote, aligning with the previous year.  

Sawan informed reporters after the meeting that the “silent majority” has made their expectations clear: to achieve a balanced transition. Scientists emphasize the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 43% from 2019 levels by 2030 to have a chance of meeting the Paris Agreement’s objective of limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. 

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