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Stopping Shell

Shell ‘intimidation’ lawsuit backfires as Greenpeace raises $m from supporters to fight case
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Activists holding placards by Gideon Mendel of climate impacted communities from around the world and placards saying “Shell will never silence us on the climate crisis” protest outside the English Admirality Court in London.

Main image: Activists, holding placards by Gideon Mendel of climate-impacted communities from around the world and placards saying ‘Shell will never silence us on the climate crisis’, protest outside the English Admirality Court in London © David Mirzoeff / Greenpeace

Greenpeace has revealed that members of the public have donated over $1 million to help it fight a multimillion dollar SLAPP lawsuit from Shell and continue campaigning against Shell and the wider industry, exceeding the amount Shell is demanding in damages.
Greenpeace launched the ‘Stop Shell Appeal’ last November after Shell sued the environmental NGO over a peaceful climate protest earlier in the year.

Shell is demanding around $1 million in damages, as well as legal fees that could rise into millions more, making it one of the biggest legal threats against Greenpeace in its more than 50-year history. The average donation to the appeal is £40.

’Badly misjudged’

The news came days after Greenpeace and Shell’s legal teams met in court for the first time. Greenpeace activists demonstrated outside the court prior to the start of the hearing, holding placards reading ‘Shell will never silence us on the climate crisis’ and images of survivors of extreme weather events from around the world.

What’s a SLAPP lawsuit?

Shell’s lawsuit has been widely acknowledged to be a strategic litigation against public participation (SLAPP), a type of abusive lawsuit commonly brought by wealthy corporations to silence criticism.

Last week, the UK Anti-SLAPP coalition, a group of leading UK media organisations, lawyers and rights groups and media organisations including Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists and Index on Censorship issued a statement in support of Greenpeace.
On the same day, the Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe (CASE), a coalition of 118 prominent rights groups including the European Federation of Journalists, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and PEN International has certified Shell’s lawsuit against Greenpeace as a SLAPP.

‘Shell thought that a multimillion dollar lawsuit would intimidate us into silence, but the outpouring of public support shows how badly they misjudged this. Ordinary people have had enough of watching Shell make billions in profit from a commodity that’s driving energy bills up and fueling climate disasters around the world.
‘The fight is only just beginning. Those in power are doing nothing to hold the fossil fuel giants to account, so we will keep campaigning until Shell and the rest of the industry stops drilling and starts paying for the climate catastrophe they are fuelling around the world. Shell might have deep pockets, but our supporters’ commitment runs deeper still.’

Campaigner at Greenpeace UK

No damage caused

Celebrity supporters including Stephen Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch, Emma Thompson and Greta Thunberg joined almost 180,000 members of the public in signing an open letter backing Greenpeace’s campaign, while Jesse Armstrong, Emmy-winning writer of Succession, donated £25,000 to the ‘Stop Shell Appeal’. 
Shell launched the lawsuit in late 2023 in response to a peaceful protest by Greenpeace UK and Greenpeace International earlier that year, in which activists peacefully occupied a moving oil platform to protest against the climate change loss and damage caused by Shell. 
Activists were calling on the company to stop drilling for new oil and gas, and start paying for climate damage that the oil and gas industry is fuelling around the world.

Shell acknowledges no damage was caused to its equipment, but is nonetheless demanding extensive damages.

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