If Shell was “one of the first companies in the sector” to give shareholders their say on the climate, “we need much more important immediate actions”, added a shareholder. (Photo: 123RF)
London — Activists burst, session suspended and litany of questions from shareholders on its climate strategy: the British oil giant Shell was heckled Tuesday during its general meeting, even if its plans are about to be validated.
Overwhelmed at the start of the meeting by activists who sang and shouted at the shareholders, the chairman of the Board of Directors Andrew Mackenzie had to suspend the general meeting for about two hours.
“Stop fooling yourself by saying you are doing no harm. Think about your children and your family. They will not escape the effects of the climate emergency”, shouted the activists in particular, according to live broadcasts of the general assembly.
“We will, we will stop you!”, Activists sang again to the tune of Queen’s title “We will rock you” from the GA room, in front of the board of directors reduced to waiting for the arrival of the police and the eviction of the protesters.
Outside, another group of activists were singing and chanting slogans like “Shame on Shell”.
“I deeply regret this,” said board chairman Andrew Mackenzie, who had unsuccessfully called on protesters to wait for discussion of the group’s climate transition plan to speak out calmly.
About 80 activists took part in this action, said Money Rebellion, which had announced its intention to demonstrate with other environmental organizations to denounce the climate inaction of the oil “major”, after having disrupted the general meetings of HSBC banks in recent weeks. , Barclays and Standard Chartered.
“We respect everyone’s right to express their point of view”, but “this kind of disruption during our general meeting is the opposite of a constructive discussion”, commented the company in a press release.
When the general meeting was able to resume, this time it was institutional shareholders who took turns to put the climate at the heart of the questions to the board of directors.
“Not sufficient” measures
Despite an action plan aiming for carbon neutrality in 2050, “you still plan to increase emissions”, and the measures targeted “are simply not sufficient” to achieve the objectives of the Paris agreement, thus tackled an investor.
If Shell was “one of the first companies in the sector” to give shareholders their say on the climate, “we need much greater immediate action”, added another shareholder.
“I believe we have already significantly reinvented the business,” retorted chief executive Ben van Beurden. “We believe that our strategy and the objective that we have set ourselves are well in line with the Paris agreement”, which aims to limit global warming to +1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial era.
Shareholders still approved 80% of Shell’s climate strategy on Tuesday afternoon, according to the number of votes received at the end of the general meeting. All the votes had not yet been counted.
Another climate resolution, this time from shareholders and notably calling on Shell to “report” on its progress at least once a year, was rejected by nearly 80% of the votes received.
On Monday, a Shell consultant had resigned with a bang, accusing the British oil giant of “completely failing in (its) ambition to transition to carbon neutrality”.
“Shell is fully aware that (its) continued oil and gas extraction and expansion projects are causing extreme damage to our climate, our environment, nature and people,” she said.
An institutional investor, Royal London Asset Management, criticized Shell’s climate transition plan last week, saying it did not reduce oil consumption enough.
Shell was down 1.01% at 2,363.50 pence around 10:45 a.m. Quebec time in a slightly lower market, mainly due to the threat of a possible windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas companies, which have largely benefited from the surge in hydrocarbon prices in recent months, while many consumers can no longer cope with soaring energy and food bills.