Main image: © David Mirzoeff / Greenpeace
Shell’s headquarters were targeted by Greenpeace UK activists today (02 Feb) as the oil company posted record annual profits of £32.2bn.
At first light, activists set up a huge, mock petrol station price board outside the company’s London HQ.
The 10-foot board displays the £32.2bn Shell has made in profits in 2022, with a question mark next to the amount it will pay towards climate loss and damage.
The campaigners are calling on Shell to take responsibility for its historic role in the climate crisis and pay for the devastation it causes around the world.
To put Shell’s huge profits today into perspective, it amounts to well over double the conservative estimates of the £13.1bn Pakistan needs to recover from last year’s devastating floods.
‘Shell is profiteering from climate destruction and immense human suffering. While Shell counts their record-breaking billions, people across the globe count the damage from the record-breaking droughts, heatwaves and floods this oil giant is fuelling. This is the stark reality of climate injustice, and we must end it.
‘World leaders have just set up a new fund to pay for the loss and damage caused by the climate crisis. Now they should force historical mega polluters like Shell to pay into it. It’s time to make polluters pay. If they had pivoted their business and transitioned away from fossil fuels sooner, we wouldn’t be in such a deep crisis. It’s time for them to stop drilling and start paying.’
Senior climate justice campaigner for Greenpeace UK
Today’s protest is taking place in parallel with another ongoing Greenpeace International protest at sea, in which four brave activists from climate-impacted countries are occupying a Shell oil and gas platform in the Atlantic Ocean as it makes its way to the North Sea Penguins field.
The activists boarded the platform near the Canaries from Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise.
‘My family in Cameroon is living through long periods of droughts that have led to crop failure and increased living costs. Rivers are drying up and long-awaited rains don’t come. When the rains do finally fall, there is so much that it floods everything – homes, fields, streets – and again people struggle to adapt and survive.
‘But this crisis is not limited to one part of the world. I live in Germany and, last year, so many crops dried up because of long heatwaves and drought – my own fruit and vegetables that I was growing in my little field perished – and forest fires ravaged fauna and flora and caused air pollution.
‘There is one major actor fuelling the parallel climate, nature and cost of living crises: fossil fuel companies. It’s time to build new ways of living and collaboration that work for people, not polluters, and that restore nature rather than destroy it.’
VICTORINE CHE THÖNER
Greenpeace International climate justice campaigner on board the Arctic Sunrise
Shell’s unprecedented profits will likely attract negative attention for the company and its new boss Sawan.
Although Shell will soon pay tax in the UK for the first time since 2017, it has happily accepted £100m from UK taxpayers over those years, and has most recently come under fire for claiming £200m from Ofgem for taking on home energy customers whose suppliers had gone bankrupt.
And instead of investing its profits back into clean, cheap renewable power which could alleviate bills, shore up UK energy security, and ease the climate crisis, Shell has funnelled billions back into shareholder pockets in the form of buybacks.
In the first six months of 2022, Shell invested just 6.3% of its £17.1bn profits into low carbon energy – but invested nearly three times more in oil and gas.
‘These obscene profits are an insult to working families.
‘As households up and down Britain struggle to pay their bills and make ends meet, Shell are enjoying a cash bonanza.
‘The time for excuses is over. The government must impose a larger windfall tax on energy companies. Billions are being left on the table.
‘Instead of holding down the pay of paramedics, teachers, firefighters and millions of other hard-pressed public servants, ministers should be making Big Oil and Gas pay their fair share.
‘There is nothing stopping Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt from making that political choice.’
At COP27 climate talks, world leaders agreed there should be a ‘pot of money’ for loss and damage. But it has not yet been agreed how much money should be directed towards it, nor the mechanism for paying.
Two weeks ago, UN chief António Guterres told the World Economic Forum at Davos: ‘Today, fossil fuel producers and their enablers are still racing to expand production, knowing full well that their business model is inconsistent with human survival. This insanity belongs in science fiction, yet we know the ecosystem meltdown is cold, hard scientific fact.’