The Aberdeen headquarters of oil giant Shell have been blockaded for several hours as Extinction Rebellion carries out a series of protests across the city today.
Protestors arrived at the Tullos base at 6.30 this morning, securing the entrances and blocking the main gate with the group’s boat, named Amal Gous.
The organisation said it intends to carry out the climate protest “all day, with the aim of shutting the building down to disrupt business as usual”.
Some protestors are “locked together” to ensure they aren’t removed.
Police Scotland is on site and liaising with both Shell and Extinction Rebellion, while motorists are being advised to avoid the area.
In response, Shell said it agreed “urgent action is needed” which requires “effective policy, investment in technology and changing customer behaviour”.
Meanwhile industry body Oil and Gas UK condemned the protest as “causing alarm rather than engaging in meaningful discussion”.
Stakeholder director Gareth Wynn said: “Climate change will be solved by practical actions not conspiracy theories and stunts.”
He added that the sector is “committed” to delivering a transition to low carbon and welcomes those willing to take part in “solutions-focussed discussions”.
Extinction Rebellion’s “Red Rebel Brigade” is also carrying out various demonstrations around the city centre.
Protesting at Shell was activist Jessica Cowell, a 28-year-old soil scientist from Edinburgh.
She said: “We’re trying to blockade Shell’s HQ and are taking the demand to stop developing fossil fuel infrastructure to the door of the corporations.
“The best science in the world is telling us we’re on course for a catastrophic climate breakdown, as evidenced by the fires in Australia and the floods in Indonesia, and it’s getting worse.
“We need to stay under 1.5 degrees Celsius, but are on course for more than 3 degrees of warming, which would be devastating.”
Extinction Rebellion Scotland are blocking the entrances to the @Shell_UKLtd offices in Aberdeen.
— Extinction Rebellion Scotland 🌍 (@ScotlandXr) January 16, 2020
In response, Shell said the heightened awareness of climate change seen in recent months is a “good thing”.
A spokesman added: “As a company, we agree that urgent action is needed. What will really accelerate change is effective policy, investment in technology innovation and deployment, and changing customer behaviour.
“As we move to a lower-carbon future, we are committed to playing our part, by addressing our own emissions and helping customers to reduce theirs – because we all have a role to play.”
The protest is part of a two-week campaign targeting the fossil fuels industry.
Last week protests were staged at a jack-up rig in Dundee Port, which is due to carry out work for Shell in the UK North Sea, and the Scottish Parliament.
Former oil worker Neil Rothnie said the industry’s strategy of maximising economic recovery (MER), which is supported by government and could deliver a further 20 billion North Sea barrels, must not be allowed to go ahead.
Mr Rothnie also stressed there should be a ‘just’ transition which ensures oil workers are looked after and have alternative employment opportunities as the energy transition progresses.
He added: “Workers always pay the price when accidents happen or when there is an oil price downturn.”
“The energy transition will take place sooner rather than later and workers will pay unless there is a concerted effort to ensure a just transition.
“They cannot be treated like the miners. The miners, their families and their communities were shafted.”
Also protesting was Scott Herrett, a 43-year-old researcher from Aberdeen.
He said: “We’re here to demand Shell stops exploring for more fossil fuels. What they’re doing goes against the science of what we need to do to respond to climate change.
“We calling for a transition away from oil and gas. Cities like Aberdeen rely on oil, so we understand it will be a difficult process, but we have no option to start weaning ourselves off fossil fuels.”
Police Scotland remains at the site.
Local area commander for Aberdeen South, chief inspector Davie Howieson, said: “Officers are currently in attendance at a peaceful protest in Wellington Road, Aberdeen, outside the Shell premises.
“The road was blocked from around 6.45am on Thursday, 16 January, and road users are advised to avoid the area for the time being.
“We are liaising with both Shell and the protest organisers, Extinction Rebellion.”