Shell CEO shielded by security as climate protesters try to storm shareholder meeting

Security staff shielded Shell (SHEL.L) Chief Executive Wael Sawan and the firm’s board of directors as climate protesters tried unsuccessfully to storm the stage at the energy giant’s annual shareholder meeting in London on Tuesday.

Shell Chairman Andrew Mackenzie was unable to start the energy giant’s annual general shareholder meeting an hour after its scheduled start amid climate activists singing and shouting before being carried out one by one by security staff.

At one point, dozens of security staff formed a human chain on the stage to shield executives and directors from protestors running towards them and attempting to climb the stage.

The scenes were reminiscent of Shell’s shareholder meeting last year which was delayed by around three hours with similar, staggered protests.

“Go to hell, Shell, and don’t you come back no more,” a choir of about a dozen protesters sang with Sawan and Chairman Andrew Mackenzie looking on.

“I will not stand by while Shell destroys this beautiful planet,” one protestor shouted.

Shell is also facing an increasingly vocal minority of institutional shareholders saying it must move faster to tackle climate change while it seeks to balance pressure from other investors to capture profits from oil and gas.

“We’ve heard this point many times now,” Mackenzie told the protesters.

“Wouldn’t it be nice to have this debate rather than saying the same thing over and over again.”

A company spokesperson said Shell welcomed constructive engagement and pointed to Shell’s plans to become a net carbon zero company by 2050.

Shell shareholders will vote on Tuesday on a shareholder activist resolution calling on the company to set more ambitious 2030 emissions cutting targets, which Shell’s board reject.

Scientists say the world needs to cut greenhouse gas emissions by around 43% by 2030 from 2019 levels to stand any chance of meeting the Paris Agreement goal of keeping warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) hotter than pre-industrial levels.

Reporting by Shadia Nasralla; editing by Jason Neely
Shadia Nasralla and Ron Bousso