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Shell CEO confronted by protestors at Edinburgh event

© Photographer: Jason Alden/BloombergShell CEO
Shell CEO Ben van Beurden.

Climate campaigners have disrupted an event in Edinburgh due to the involvement of Shell’s chief executive.

Just after 11am, a protestor took to the stage at the TED Countdown conference during a panel session with Ben van Beurden.

Prior to the session, demonstrators had raised concerns about the involvement of Shell, claiming that the oil and gas giant had “no place speaking at an event” on climate change.

Organisers didn’t bow to the campaigners, resulting in a youth activist disrupting the panel – a protest was also held outside the building in Edinburgh.

Demonstrators also walked in front of the stage holding banners with the phrase “no future in fossil fuels” before staging a walk out.

Francesca, a Stop Cambo campaigner, said: “It is clear Shell has no real commitment to reducing its emissions, and allowing them a platform at TED Countdown is nothing more than another opportunity for greenwashing the fossil fuel industry.

“Fossil fuel companies, of any kind, should not be welcomed at events that claim to focus on climate justice. It is disrespectful to frontline activists – many of whom were not invited to this event and are unable to attend COP26 due to vaccine apartheid – as their communities are directly harmed by the decisions of these CEOs.

“Van Beurden’s inclusion as a speaker suggests that these companies are part of the solution, but they are not. They should be held accountable for their crimes against humanity and be dismantled, replaced by a just transition that centres frontline communities, workers, and voices of those who are most affected by climate breakdown.”

Alongside Siccar Point Energy, Shell has a stake in the proposed Cambo field, west of Shetland.

The future of the project is currently a topic of hot debate in the UK, with some claiming it is at odds with climate change and should be axed.

On the other side, industry figures have stressed that doing so would do nothing to reduce demand for oil and gas, meaning barrels would simply have to be sourced from elsewhere.

Earlier this year, Shell was ordered by a court in The Hague to cut its global emissions by around half by 2035, a decision it is appealing.

The Anglo-Dutch supermajor has committed to becoming a net zero business by 2050.

Daze, a climate activist, said: “My family is from the Niger Delta, and I know the harm Shell has caused and continues to cause by pushing us closer and closer to climate devastation. This action is the youth saying enough is enough, asking the hard questions and demanding answers.

“We need Shell to commit to stopping the future harm caused by projects like the Cambo oil field, but also addressing the past harm like the murder of Indigenous activists. Without this, Shell is not part of the future we need.”

Bryce, another activist, added: “Where I live in Mossmorran we are directly suffering from the effects of Shell’s pollution. Now we are allowing the man responsible for contaminating the air in my hometown the privilege of sitting in an air-conditioned hall, and talking about the future.”

Theresa, a youth protestor, said: “Shell’s projects have devastated communities, wrecked fragile ecosystems and destroyed lives. They have no plans to end their extractive and oppressive operations. Why do we continue to believe their lies? Why would we give them a platform for their deadly greenwashing?”

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