Shell’s annual general meeting today got off to a rocky start with vociferous in-room protests that overwhelmed the early proceedings with chants, shouting and singing.
When proceedings started, more than one hour late, many questions were posed by shareholders about Shell’s commitment to the energy transition and its targets on carbon emissions, laced with accusations about the harm the oil company is said to be doing to humanity.
The protesters were able to access the room despite Shell putting in place a security process at the entrance which one shareholder described as “a nightmare” and “excessive”.
Chairman Andrew Mackenzie asked security staff to remove protesters from the room as one group after another rose to express their opposition to Shell.
One group belted out repeatedly: “Go to hell Shell, don’t you come here no more no more no more no more, go to hell Shell.”
Another group sang out: “We’re on the highway to hell.”
Protesters called for an immediate end to oil and gas production. They also expressed serious concerns about Shell’s involvement in Nigeria and the recent Dutch Court decision that told Shell to adjust its climate targets.
This year’s AGM was the first for Shell chief executive Wael Sawan, who managed an uninterrupted 15-minute address before the question and answer session.
All 26 resolutions that were put to shareholders passed comfortably, including climate-related resolutions 25 and 26.
Resolution 25, or Shell’s Energy Transition resolution, was aimed at approving Shell’s Energy Transition Progress for the year ending 31 December 2022 and the Shell Energy Transition Progress Report 2022.
Resolution 26 was a shareholder resolution filed by the activist group Follow This that called for tougher emission-reduction targets by 2030.
Shell’s board requested shareholders to support Resolution 25 but vote against Resolution 26, which they did.
However, major shareholders including the Church of England pensions board voted against the re-election of the chairman Mackenzie and all of Shell’s directors, and also voted in support of Resolution 26, due to its doubts about Shell’s climate ambitions.
Mark van Baal, the founder of Follow This, said after the vote was completed on Resolution 26 that investors had missed an opportunity to urge Shell to drive down emissions by 2030.
“We have made it easy for investors to use the power of their votes, but many investors have yet to decouple short-term profits from long-term risks for the company and their portfolios,” van Baal said.
“Thankfully, prominent investors have voted in favour of our climate resolution; we thank them for their determination to achieve Paris. We hope that other investors will follow their leadership and view Total’s, Exxon’s and Chevron’s AGMs later this month as retakes to correct their oversight.”
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