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LONDON (Reuters) – Security staff protected Shell (SHEL.L) CEO Wael Sawan and company directors as climate protesters tried to take to the stage at the energy giant’s annual meeting of shareholders in London on Tuesday.
Proceedings began to meet after an hour of unrest as protesters carried out dozens of security personnel. At one point, security personnel formed a human chain on stage to protect executives and managers from protesters.
A choir of dozens of demonstrators sang “Go to hell Shell, and don’t come back anymore,” while demanding that Shell stop producing fossil fuels, with Sawan and President Andrew Mackenzie watching.
“We’ve heard this point many times now,” McKenzie told the protesters. “Wouldn’t it be nice to have this discussion instead of saying the same thing over and over again.”
He added that Shell’s investment in low-carbon solutions that generate less revenue than oil and gas projects shows that it takes climate change seriously.
Shell, which reported a record $40 billion in profits last year, other big hydrocarbon producers argue they must help cover ever-growing demand for oil and gas.
A company spokesperson said the protesters were “not interested in constructive engagement” and referred to Shell’s plans to become a carbon-neutral company by 2050.
The company is also grappling with an increasingly vocal minority of institutional shareholders saying it must move faster to tackle climate change while balancing pressure from other investors to lock in profits from oil and gas.
Preliminary figures showed a fifth of Shell shareholders voted in favor of the resolution put forward by activist group Follow This, calling on the company to set more ambitious emissions targets. Shell’s board rejected the decision.
The decision echoes a ruling by a Dutch court that asked Shell to ramp up its climate targets. Shell launched an appeal against the ruling.
Shell’s climate strategy decision received 80% of the vote, in line with last year.
“The silent majority with us is very clear about their expectations… (to find) a balanced transition,” Sawan told reporters after the meeting.
Scientists say the world needs to cut greenhouse gas emissions by about 43% from 2019 levels by 2030 to have a chance of meeting the Paris Agreement’s target of keeping warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.
(Reporting by Shadia Nasrallah). Editing by Jason Neely
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