18 May 2021
On the day of Shell’s annual general meeting activist groups all over the Netherlands and several places worldwide protested under the slogan Shell Must Fall. The groups state that Shell will never be a green or fair company because the Shell board and the shareholders put short-term profits over human lives and a healthy planet. During the meeting the board advised shareholders to vote in favour of Shell’s new energy transition plan instead of the more ambitious resolutions the green shareholders group Follow This put forward. As a result Shell’s energy transition plan received almost 90% of the votes although it falls short of both Shell’s own climate goals as well as the target emissions proposed by climate scientists in line with the Paris agreement.
“Today has once again shown that Shell and its shareholders are not willing to go beyond greenwashing and take actual steps towards a sustainable transition. Critical questions at the shareholders’ meeting were systematically avoided. The time has come to start building a future without Shell and dismantle the company altogether: The oil wells need to be sealed, affected communities need to be rebuilt and compensated, and workers need to be retrained to work sustainable jobs. That is the only way to go about a just and fair energy transition.”, Hanneke van Houten, spokesperson for Code Rood and Shell Must Fall, explains.
The actions took place in various cities in the Netherlands, as well as in Nigeria, Germany and Sweden and were addressed at Shell as well as the company’s shareholders. In the Nigerian metropolis Lagos activists of CAPPA Africa (Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa) took to the streets to demand that Shell take responsibility for cleaning up the oil spills its operations have caused in Nigeria and pay reparations to affected communities. Activists in the Swedish city of Lund enacted a theatrical performance, covering themselves in an oil-like substance to call attention to the fact that Shell wants to continue to drill for oil. In Amsterdam, Utrecht and Heerlen activists called on ABP, the Dutch pension fund, to stop their investments in the fossil fuel industry. In the Dutch cities of Arnhem and Hengelo and in the Swedish Malmö Shell gas stations and distribution centres were targeted. In Leiden students organized a banner drop at Leiden University, demanding their university cut its ties with Shell.
Around noon a symbolic action took place right in front of Shell’s headquarters in The Hague. Climate activists dressed as construction workers equipped with a crane and a wrecking ball prepared to demolish the Shell HQ and replace it with an International Tribunal for Climate Justice. “The Hague is the city of justice and peace. It is already home to the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. It is the perfect place for a Tribunal that will rule for crimes against the climate and ecological destruction. This way we can ensure that reparations are paid and the past is not forgotten. Shell is a criminal company and a knowing and willing driver of the climate crisis. Their operations have made countless areas uninhabitable and Shell has never taken responsibility for this. Instead of being rewarded with subsidies and tax benefits, Shell’s CEO’s should be held accountable before the law”, says van Houten.