Climate change protesters have warned they plan to continue their action despite increasing numbers of arrests, urging authorities not to ignore the “looming environmental crisis”, while also drawing in some political support.
The so-called International Rebellion, another climate change protest that has brought widespread disruption in some cities, is now in its tenth day. One of the movement's goals is to put governments under pressure over perceived climate inaction.
In the UK capital of London, the movement has been hit with a city-wide protest ban after more than 1600 protesters were arrested since 7 October, when the action began.
The ban, meant to avoid serious disruption, brought condemnation from Green Party members and Labour Party members, including the Mayor of London, who in a statement distanced himself from police action.
The ban is already being challenged in court.
Organisations like Amnesty International joined in support of the Extinction Rebellion protest after the ban in London and called for climate action.
UK politicians, religious leaders, actors and writers also joined the protest, which earlier this week included a protest outside the London office of investment giant BlackRock, as well as protests against other financial institutions.
While some politicians have backed the action, other heavily criticised the protests, which aim to disrupt while drawing attention to climate change, which they blame largely on fossil fuels companies and government inaction.
Nevertheless, similar actions continue. A Greenpeace protest hit Shell’s Brent field in the UK North Sea on Monday to protest against the supermajor’s decommissioning plans for the facilities.
The environmental protest raised concerns after Shell asked the UK government for an exemption to leave in place the massive concrete gravity-base legs of the platforms, arguing that removal presents too great a technical risk that would be of little environmental benefit.
As these actions continue, the threat to future investments in oil and gas has been acknowledged by industry players, however somewhat dismissed as an “unhealthy trend, partly due to “societal risk”.
The chief executive of Shell said the company will not bow to pressure from environmental advocates by abandoning its investment in fossil fuels over climate change fears, as there is still an opportunity to make money in the forthcoming years.
Speaking to Reuters, Ben van Beurden said the company has “no choice” but to invest in oil and gas projects.
“Despite what a lot of activists say, it is entirely legitimate to invest in oil and gas because the world demands it,” Van Beurden said.
Van Beurden expressed concern that some investors could ditch Shell, acknowledging that shares in the company were trading at a discount partly due to “societal risk”.
“I am afraid of that, to be honest…But I don’t think they will flee for the justified concern of stranded assets ... (It is) the continued pressure on our sector, in some cases to the point of demonisation, that scares asset managers,” he said.
“It is not at a scale that the alarm bells are ringing, but it is an unhealthy trend,” Van Beurden said.
“That leaves us no choice but to stop them if we want to avoid a climate catastrophe,” Greenpeace UK senior climate campaigner Mel Evans said in response.
“This is why political and financial institutions can't just sit and wait for Big Oil to clean up its act. Ministers should ban new oil and gas exploration now, and big banks and major shareholders should pull the plug on oil giants who refuse to radically shift their business model to clean energy,” Evans said.
Extinction Rebellion protests continue despite the police ban, as part of a two-weeks planned action.
Protesters continue to take to the streets, aiming to get arrested and cause disruption, albeit actions have been shrunk back to mostly European cities over the past week.