For immediate release
Video and photos available: attached and through link https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1lfom56e-1BJFBUdUJXqHz_wMWP_aeb7l Photo credit Fossil Free London
Today, Tuesday 23rd May, around thirty Christians were amongst the crowds protesting at the Shell AGM, which took place at Excel London. Members of Christian Climate Action gathered outside for a prayer vigil and held banners reading ‘No Faith In Fossil Fuels’ and ‘Your Greed is Killing Humanity’. Other protestors present played drums and called out chants.
Activities also took place inside the building. A number of Christians joined people to make a protest choir – singing messages urging Shell to change their practices. People stood up in the AGM, giving impromptu speeches – outlining examples of damage that Shell has caused and sharing messages from individuals on the front lines of climate breakdown. A number of activists also tried to run onto the stage at the front of the AGM, with shouts from across the centre of ‘shut down Shell’. The AGM proceedings were considerably disrupted, until protestors were carried out individually by police.
Mother-of-three Ruth Jarman is a Christian who was involved in the climate choir. She said: “‘In CCA, we’ve been praying for the conversion of the fossil fuel companies. These are the principalities and powers of our age but they are run by human beings with hearts and souls as well as minds who are not beyond redemption. As I sang I was praying for the dangerous entity that is Shell to go to hell but for the board of Shell to repent and to spend the rest of their lives redressing the immense damage they have caused.”
In 2021, the International Energy Agency said that exploitation and development of new oil and gas fields must stop if the world is to stay within safe limits of global heating . Despite this, Shell plans to develop new fossil fuel extraction sites, including Penguins  and Jackdaw . Shell made £32 billion profit in 2022, double the previous years total and the highest in its 115-year history . The company’s recently departed CEO saw his pay increase more than 50% to nearly £10m in the last year , including a £2.6m bonus. Meanwhile 7million people in the UK experienced fuel poverty in 2022 .
Mike Mullins, was one of the Christians inside the building who stood up and spoke out at the AGM. He said: “I am protesting at today’s Shell AGM because Shell has a record of blighting communities across the world and destroying wildlife habitats. In the global south people fight for their homes and very survival, as Shell plunders their land and burns their future. In the Philippines people are resisting Shell’s ocean wrecking oil infrastructure in the Verde Island Passage – an area known for its unique biodiversity. In South Africa people are resisting Shell’s seismic blasting on the Gold Coast. Shell has a long history of ignoring human rights and the right of animals and wildlife. Shell is just about extraction, exploitation and execution. Shell needs to change. It needs to be part of the solution not part of the problem.”
Melanie Nazareth, is a barrister and member of Christian Climate Action who took part in the vigil outside the AGM. She says: I’m protesting here at the Shell AGM to highlight that the Shell Board are choosing to continue their path of climate destruction when they could be helping the world move to renewable energy. As a Christian I am commanded to love my neighbour, and the climate change that Shell is deliberately fuelling in pursuit of ever increasing profits is killing our vulnerable sisters and brothers around the world. I cannot be a bystander in the face of such injustice.
Sister Kate Midgely, from London, was also outside the building taking part in the vigil: “I’m here today to cry out to God about the damage the burning of fossil fuels is causing to the earth, our common home, which is leading to a human induced mass extinction. I’m here to pray that all who work for Shell will have a moment of awakening and a profound change of mind and heart. As Pope Francis has said ‘From God’s hands we have received a garden we cannot leave a desert to our children.'”
At the same time as the protest at the Shell AGM, two concurrent protests also took place at Blackrock and Vanguard – Shell’s largest share holders. Signs held at these protests read “Blackrock and Vanguard are complicit and profiting from Shell’s crimes against people and the planet”.
Over the last month members of Christian Climate Action have been protesting at AGMs for three banks – Barclays, HSBC and Lloyds. The protesters were calling upon these banks to stop their funding of fossil fuel companies.
At the Barclays AGM, around 40 people, who had bought shares to gain access to the meeting, disrupted the AGM through song. During the opening remarks by the Barclays chairman, the group started singing a Spice Girls song, but with lyrics changed to point out the terrible damage caused by Barclays funding fossil fuel production: “Stop right now, no more oil and gas, stop funding fossil fuels and end this madness…”
Dave Mitchell, from Bristol, was part of the choir that sung. He said “Barclays bank is Europe’s biggest funder of fossil fuel companies, pouring billions into new oil and gas exploration. The science is clear that fossil fuels cause climate change, leading to extreme weather events around the world, and ultimately to mass societal collapse.”
At the Lloyds AGM a number of individuals stood up in the middle of proceedings and called upon the bank to stop funding fossil fuel companies. One of those was Christian Climate Action member Drew James, who in a hopeful and prophetic statement, urged the bank to be the first real green highstreet bank. Drew explains, “I was very nervous and quite tense. There was heckling against us, but I hope the board were listening and heard what we were saying”.