Main image: Greenpeace Activists Dressed as Shell ‘Executives’ Hold Party outside Shell’s Headquarters in London © Chris J Ratcliffe / Greenpeace
Greenpeace activists dressed as Shell board members partied around a burning sign reading ‘Your Future’ at a mock party outside the Shell headquarters as the company announced it made £22.4 billion ($28.3 billion) profit in 2023.
The action, which saw the smartly dressed execs neck champagne, fan wads of money in the air and dance a conga line around the burning sign, challenged the fossil fuel giant for posting massive profits made during a year of record global temperatures where extreme weather linked to the climate crisis wreaked havoc around the world.
This included devastating cyclones in southern Africa and Myanmar and unprecedented wildfires across North America and Europe.
Shell’s profit announcement comes days after massive wildfires led to a state of emergency in Colombia, which has been attributed to climate change.
January also saw some of the worst flooding the UK has witnessed in decades, with the Met Office warning that climate change will increase the likelihood and intensity of future floods.
Climate change is estimated to cause economic losses of up to $580 billion a year globally by 2050.
‘Fires are raging across Colombia, Britain has been wracked by floods, 2023 smashed global temperature records, but Shell is posting yet more obscene profits from climate-wrecking fossil fuels.
‘While customers struggle with the cost-of-living crisis, Shell shovels over billions to shareholders and drills for yet more oil and gas, climate disasters are multiplying and hitting hardest those who have done the least to cause the crisis.
‘It’s time to end the fossil fuel party. It would take the average British worker over 640,000 years to earn as much as Shell did last year. Our government must make oil companies like Shell stop drilling and start using their immense wealth to pay for the damage they are causing, before all our futures go up in flames.’
Campaigner at Greenpeace UK
In light of the soaring costs of extreme weather, particularly for countries in the Global South whose contribution to climate change is often negligible, Greenpeace is calling for Shell and other oil giants to be made to pay into the Loss and Damage fund operationalised at the COP28 climate talks last month.
Shell’s 2023 profit could cover the cost of Malawi’s recovery from last March’s Cyclone Freddy 41 times.
Since posting record profits in 2022, Shell CEO Wael Sawan has shredded the company’s green strategy, abandoning planned production cuts, slashing investment and jobs from Shell’s renewables division, ramping up gas production and exploring for new oil and gas.
In November, Sawan promised shareholders 2023 payouts of at least $23 billion, over six times as much as it planned to spend on renewables last year.
Shell also launched a multimillion dollar lawsuit against Greenpeace in late 2023 in response to a peaceful protest by the organisation earlier that year, in which activists occupied a moving oil platform to protest against the climate change loss and damage caused by Shell.
Shell is demanding around $1 million in damages, as well as legal costs that could rise into the millions.
This is one of the biggest legal threats against Greenpeace in its more than 50-year history.