May 21, 2019 / 10:14 AM / a month ago

Activists demand end of Shell, fossil fuel at shareholder meeting

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - A group of environmental activists tried to disrupt Royal Dutch Shell’s annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday, calling for this year’s gathering to be the company’s last.

Environmental activists demonstrate outside the Royal Dutch Shell's annual general shareholder meeting, calling for the end of the use of fossil fuel, in Scheveningen, Netherlands May 21, 2019. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

Around 20 activists from Dutch environmental action group Code Rood (Code Red) dressed in red jumpsuits held up banners with the slogan “shut down fossil power” and jeered at passing shareholders as they stood outside the energy giant’s meeting in the seaside town of Scheveningen near The Hague.

Inside the venue a spokeswoman for Code Red, Talissa Soto, addressed the board, saying Shell’s business cannot be reconciled with global warming and the only solution is for its business model “to become history.”

“We will tax you, regulate you, split you up... today you are witnessing the last-ever Shell AGM,” she said.

Shell CEO Ben van Beurden told the meeting that the company wanted to do the right thing, but the energy industry could not work alone.

“Our company wants to be on the right side of history and we are doing everything that is needed, but we cannot do it alone and as a matter of fact even the entire energy industry cannot do it on its own,” he said.

“If we cannot do it together with customers, regulators, policymakers, it’s just not going to happen. That’s why I think we have to all try to step up, rather than accusing, polarizing and using very unhelpful stances.”

The Anglo-Dutch company had drawn rare praise from investors and environmental activists in December when it set out plans to introduce industry-leading targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and link them to executive pay.

But the activists on Tuesday said Shell invests too heavily in the extraction of fossil fuels, the use of which is blamed for carbon emissions that cause climate change.

“Of the billions that Shell invests, more than 95% continues to go to the extraction of oil and gas,” while shareholders

“opted for short-term profit at the expense of people and the climate,” Code Red said in a statement. It vowed to “escalate our actions by proactively targeting sites of decision and power of the fossil fuel industry”.

A number of protesters also tried to disrupt rival BP’s annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday in Aberdeen, Scotland, shouting “this is a crime scene”.

Reporting by Piroschka van de Wou and Toby Sterling; Writing by Anthony Deutsch; editing by Susan Fenton

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