Guernsey Press

Climate protesters accuse Shell chairman of ‘greenwashing’ at AGM

Sir Andrew McKenzie was interrupted by protesters as he opened the meeting at the InterContinental Hotel, O2 in London on Tuesday.


Shell’s chairman was accused of greenwashing as he addressed shareholders at the oil giant’s annual general meeting (AGM).

Sir Andrew MacKenzie was interrupted by protesters as he opened the gathering at the InterContinental London – The O2 hotel on Tuesday.

Dozens of people stood up and began performing a rendition of the Dolly Parton song Jolene, singing “Shell kills, Shell kills, Shell kills, Shell kills”.

As security staff carried protesters out of the meeting room, they chanted: “Who kills the climate? Shell kills the climate.”

Four people could be seen shouting and linking arms to make it harder for security to remove them.

Protesters gather outside Shell's AGM
Protesters outside Shell’s AGM in London (Rebecca Speare-Cole/PA)

Sir Andrew began his opening remarks by defending the company’s stance on climate, emphasising the goal to be net zero by 2050 and how Shell believes the energy system will transition.

It comes after Shell scaled back its short-term and medium-term targets, weakening a 2030 carbon reduction target and ditching a plan to reduce oil production by 1%-2% each year for the rest of the decade.

The approach is part of new chief executive Wael Sawan’s strategy to focus on higher-margin projects, steady oil output, and growth in the production of natural gas to increase payouts to shareholders.

Sir Andrew told shareholders: “The speed and shape of change can be huge and people often over-estimate this in the short term but under-estimate what can change in the long term.

“While it might be tempting to stop using oil and gas before the world is ready, we must not do so at the expense of the energy needs and aspirations of the global populations.”

As soon as his speech ended, a protester stood up and shouted: “That’s all greenwash.”

The AGM has been dominated by debates around Shell’s climate strategy as shareholders prepare to vote on two resolutions focused on its strategy.

Shell has put forward a management proposal requesting investors’ approval of the updated energy transition strategy, which features the less ambitious emissions reduction targets than its previous strategy.

A record 27 institutional shareholders have co-filed a resolution, led by Dutch campaign group Follow This, asking for the company to align its Scope 3 emissions with the Paris Climate Agreement goals.

Proxy advisory firms Glass Lewis and ISS have advised investors to vote against the shareholder resolution while Pirc has recommended they support it.

Campaign group Reclaim Finance is also calling on shareholders to vote against Sir Andrew’s reappointment in protest at the climate strategy.

A Shell spokesman said: “We respect people’s right to express their point of view and welcome any constructive engagement on our strategy and the energy transition. However, these protesters have shown that they are not interested in constructive engagement.

“We agree that society needs to take action on climate change, and we firmly believe our climate targets are aligned with the more ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

“In today’s meeting, you will have heard that Shell is wholly committed to becoming a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, and taking clear action to be the investment case and partner of choice through the energy transition.”

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