Rotterdam, 10 December 2021
Shell shareholders at Shell’s general meeting today in Rotterdam were surprised on arrival by activists from Code Rood and Extinction Rebellion, carrying moving boxes with texts like ‘climate change’, ‘environmental destruction’ and ‘human rights violations’. The shareholders came together to discuss the planned move of the company to the UK. The activists drew attention to the damage caused by the fossil industry, stating on a big banner: ‘You can’t run and you can’t hide from climate justice’. ‘This planned move shows again that Shell’s priority is profit for shareholders instead of our environment and human lives,’ says Mirjam Cramer, spokesperson for the action.
Shell plans to move its operations to the UK in order to simplify its shareholder structure. ‘Shell says that this move will benefit the energy transition, but it is clear that it will first and foremost benefit shareholders who do not pay dividend tax in the UK. Instead of focusing on profits, Shell should be repairing the damage it is doing around the world.’
Taiwo Feyisipo of the Africa Roots Movement spoke about the situation in Nigeria. Earlier this year, Shell lost a lawsuit filed by 4 farmers whose land has been severely polluted by oil spills. After more than 10 years of legal proceedings Shell was ordered to pay compensation. ‘It is good that Shell was convicted, but if the company had had any sense of ethics it would have repaired the damage on its own without court interference. The lives of the affected farmers have been destroyed just because Shell puts profit above all else,’ Feyisipo argues.
In the Netherlands, the case of the Nigerian farmers is not the only lawsuit that Shell lost. Earlier this year the court in the famous climate case of Friends or the Earth Netherlands ruled that Shell has to do more to reduce its emissions. Also pending is a lawsuit by the widows of the Ogoni 9, Nigerian environmentalists who were sentenced to death in a mock trial in 1995. Witnesses say they were bribed by Shell in that trial.
‘No matter what Shell says, and no matter how much marketing budget they throw at it, Shell is not going to change. We saw that just this week, with the seismic survey that Shell wants to do off the coast of South Africa to locate new oil reserves. Those surveys are hugely damaging to all marine life. The only solution is to dismantle Shell in a just way, and build a whole new green and fair energy system,’ says Mirjam.
At the same time the action took place in Rotterdam, Extinction Rebellion was also taking action in London. There was a demonstration at the Shell office to make clear that Shell is not welcome in London.
Photo: Laura Ponchel