18 May 2020, The Hague –Thirty people will demonstrate tomorrow – at 1.5 meters distance from each other – at Shell’s shareholders’ meeting. On two other places in The Hague, there will be separate demonstrations, and there will be actions in other cities in The Netherlands as well to protest Shell’s ‘business as usual’. The oil company is using the corona crisis to close its doors and hence make criticism and participation impossible during the meeting at its headquarters in The Hague. Aside from the action at the Shell headquarters, actions are taking place in several places in The Netherlands and the rest of Europe. Spokesperson Nina: “Shell won’t change as long as it is a profit-driven shareholder company. Climate change, ecocide, and human rights abuses will continue. The escalating climate crisis is making Shell’s fall inevitable. Shell CEO Ben van Beurden doesn’t accept that because his hourly salary is 2000 euro. That’s why Shell’s dismantling is up to us!”
Shell in the corona crisis
On 19 May, Shell is organising its annual shareholders’ meeting (AGM). Because of the coronavirus, Shell is inviting only two shareholders, where in other years, impacted communities, scientists, and climate activists could call the company to account for the destruction and damage it is causing worldwide. Journalists and critical shareholders are not welcome this time, just when the company is at a tipping point.
Because of the oil crisis caused, among other things, by COVID-19, Shell is falling. The company can barely keep its head above water and survives only by cutting spending and borrowing large sums of public money. This money is used to buy back its own shares and pay dividends – an unsustainable state of affairs. Without a say in the dismantling of Shell, it is dragging its own employees, affected communities, ecosystems, and society as a whole into free fall. Spokesperson Nina: “Shell is exploiting the corona crisis to make decisions behind closed doors. Not closing the oil drilling rigs, but limiting participation under the guise of safety: everything Shell does is a sham. At shareholders’ meetings like this, money is the only priority – even if it is at the expense of integrity, people’s lives, and the climate”.
Shell Must Fall!
Shell Must Fall is a broad coalition that had prepared itself for massive civil disobedience to block the shareholders’ meeting. Among others, Code Rood, Extinction Rebellion, Climate Liberation Bloc, the Gastivists, and citizens from all over Europe – from Finland to Portugal – would demand the dismantling of Shell in The Hague with thousands of people. Because the possibilities for a large-scale protest due to the corona crisis are limited, the coalition has called on its allies and sympathisers not to travel to The Hague and instead organise local actions against Shell.
The coalition demands public control over Shell in order to dismantle the company in a just manner. Oil wells must be closed, workers must be given sustainable and healthy jobs, Shell must make reparations to affected communities and ecosystems, and we must build decentralised energy democracy for all.
Participants in the action will wear face masks and keep 1.5 meters distance from each other. People will only come to The Hague if they have a necessary role. Local actions have also been organised in various cities (including Enschede, Leiden, Amsterdam, and Groningen) so that people do not have to travel far. Online people can show their solidarity by taking part in a manifestation on manif.app.
Shell Must Fall offers solutions
The Shell Must Fall coalition also has proposals on how the dismantling of Shell should be put into practice. Last Saturday (16 May), Transnational Institute, Climate Liberation Bloc, the Gastivisits, Code Rood and Engage TV organised a programme on ‘Future Beyond Crises’. A panel discussion dealt with the question of how to come out of the crisis. The broadcast can be watched here: