Shell CEO shielded by security as climate protesters storm AGM By Reuters



© Reuters. A climate activist is removed after disrupting Shell’s annual general meeting in London, Britain May 23, 2023. REUTERS/Ron Bousso


By Shadia Nasralla and Ron Bousso

LONDON (Reuters) -Security staff shielded Shell (LON:) Chief Executive Wael Sawan and company directors as climate protesters tried to take to the stage at the energy giant’s annual shareholder meeting in London on Tuesday.

Proceedings at the meeting opened after an hour of disruptions as protestors were carried out by dozens of security staff. At one point, security staff formed a human chain on stage to shield executives and directors from protestors.

“Go to hell, Shell, and don’t you come back no more,” a choir of about a dozen protesters sang as they called for Shell to stop producing fossil fuels, with Sawan and Chairman Andrew Mackenzie watching.

“We’ve heard this point many times now,” Mackenzie told the protesters. “Wouldn’t it be nice to have this debate rather than saying the same thing over and over again.”

He added that Shell’s investment in lower-carbon solutions that earn smaller returns than oil and gas projects shows it is taking climate change seriously.

Shell, which reported a record $40 billion profit last year, and other major hydrocarbon producers argue that they have to help cover ever-increasing demand for oil and gas.

A company spokesperson said the protestors were “not interested in constructive engagement” and pointed to Shell’s plans to become a net zero carbon company by 2050.

The company is also contending with an increasingly vocal minority of institutional shareholders saying it must move faster to tackle climate change while balancing pressure from other investors to capture profits from oil and gas.

Preliminary figures showed that a fifth of Shell shareholders voted in favour of the resolution submitted by activist group Follow This, calling on the company to set more ambitious emissions targets. The resolution was rejected by Shell’s board.

The resolution echoes a ruling by a Dutch court, which told Shell to ramp up its climate targets. Shell has launched an appeal against the ruling.

Shell’s own climate strategy resolution won 80% of the vote, in line with last year.

“The silent majority is being very clear with us as to their expectations … (to) find a balanced transition,” Sawan told reporters after the meeting.

Scientists say the world needs to cut greenhouse gas emissions by about 43% from 2019 levels by 2030 to stand a chance of meeting the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

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