At today's Shell AGM link at the Barbican the suits on the Shell board were given a 3 hour grilling, with questioners focussing attention on its environmental and human rights crimes around the world. Spread throughout the auditorium, hooded London Rising Tide & friends' grim Shell reapers stood silently awaiting direction from the board toward their next appointment with Shell induced death and environmental destruction.
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The grim figures stood motionless for almost an hour while Messrs Ollila and Vosser, Chairman & CEO, attempted to defend Shell's ravenous pursuit of profit above all else at the expense of:
- the pristine Arctic, where drilling and probably spilling will begin in the summer;
- the Canadian boreal forest, where Tar Sands "extraction" has increased by 100k barrels per day
- the once beautiful fish spawning grounds of the Niger Delta, now clogged with a "Deepwater Horizon's" worth of oil every year
They listened intently to Vosser spouting that so-called "ethical company status" was "very close to my heart and we are driving sustainability". We all know where its being driven. Remember climate change?
Climate change may not be a fashionable subject these days, but it’s already claiming 300,000 lives a year. Glaciers are disappearing, sea levels are rising and extreme weather is becoming more extreme. As temperatures rise, we’ll see more flooding, drought, disease, famine and war, creating hundreds of millions of refugees and destroying entire ecosystems and species.
We can’t afford to forget about climate change – or the fact that companies like Shell are at the heart of the problem and a shift to Fossil Fuel Gas and land grabbing biofuels isn't helping!
Meanwhile outside, many more Shell Grim Reapers managed to gain entry into the lobby before being ejected by what one shareholder inside referred to as "over the top security". There they met with Occupy Shell Oil coffin bearers who had formed a solemn procession with the corporate body of Shell from St.Pauls Cathedral to be laid to rest at the feet of a 6 degree Celcius global temperature rise this century.
There among the shareholders, City cops and many private security and corporate spies, the Shell Reapers handed out leaflets to inform of impending Shell devastation.
A delegation from Indigenous peoples attended Shell’s main Annual General Meeting in The Hague, Netherlands. They detailed the massive human and ecological rights violations and economic devastation that Shell's operations have brought to local communities. The tar sands development in Alberta, Canada covers an area the size of England, with toxic lakes so huge they are visible from space, leaking poisons into the local water supply. The effects that tar sands are having on local First Nations communities are devastating. Not only are indigenous livelihoods and futures being destroyed, but communities on land where tar sands extraction has been imposed are experiencing disturbingly high rates of rare forms of cancer and auto-immune diseases.
Eriel Deranger, community member and spokesperson for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN), Alberta – an Indigenous community residing downstream from tar sands operations and who are currently suing Shell for violating past agreements - stated: “Tar sands extraction projects on our traditional lands are being approved at a pace that is both irresponsible and irreparably destructive. People in the community of Fort Chipewyan? are genuinely afraid. Our food and water sources are contaminated, resulting in a fear of eating traditional foods and eroding the continuation of our cultural and subsistence lifestyles. Yet Shell plans to aggressively expand its activities, doubling production. The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation is calling on Shell to meet its past agreements and halt expansion until our broader concerns about the cumulative impacts of tar sands operations are addressed.”
Ron Plain, from Aamjiwnaang First Nation, Ontario – which has been called ‘the most polluted place in North America’ by the National Geographic Society, and the ‘the most contaminated airshed in Canada’ by the World Health Organization due to its proximity to ‘Chemical Valley’ where Shell’s and other tar sands operators’ refineries are causing serious health and reproductive impacts – said: “Aamjiwnaang is the first community in the world to experience birth ratios of 2 girls to 1 boy due to endocrine disruption from the pollution. This is the first step towards extinction. Shell have admitted that their current facility, which is located at the fenceline of Aamjiwnaang, ‘could not meet today’s environmental regulations or standards.’ But Shell’s proposal for a new facility within Aamjiwnaang territory was recently denied by Canada for a whole host of environmental, social and other reasons. The corporate response to that set-back was to build onto the antiquated facility the equipment needed to process more tar sands bitumen.”
Robert Thompson, Chairman of REDOIL and an Inupiat from Kaktovik, a village on the edge of the Arctic Ocean in Alaska, where Shell plans to drill offshore in Arctic waters this summer, said: “Shell plans to drill in the Arctic this summer without the proven technology or infrastructure to deal with inevitable spills. They have not demonstrated the ability to clean up spills within or from under the ice or during storms. Our culture depends on a clean ocean, and we have subsisted in this region for 12,000 years. We oppose Shell’s plans that have the potential to destroy the culture of our people and will further push the planet into irreversible climate change.”
Ben Powless, a Mohawk from Six Nations in Ontario, representing the Indigenous Environmental Network, said:“Not only have Shell revelled in being a climate criminal, they have also been exposed as fighting the European Union’s proposed Fuel Quality Directive, in collusion with the Canadian government. Their continued environmental destruction and violation of Indigenous rights across Canada, Alaska and Nigeria show that Shell needs to change their operations or face increasing protest and opposition across the world. Our organization is supporting an Indigenous-led campaign against Shell’s extreme energy projects to bring together frontline impacted communities.”
To find out more about the Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign, see:http://ienearth.org/tarsands.html
So, what else can we do about Shell in London?
Apart from street corner Petrol Garage blockades we can wage war on corporate branding. Join us to help kick Shell-out Sponsorship = buying us off . Shell's sponsorship acts as a greenwashed blindfold to prevent us seeing the ravages of frontier oil extraction boundaries being pushed. When we challenge this, we strike a blow at Shell’s brand, chip away at its power and move towards the day when Big Oil – like Big Tobacco – is no longer seen as socially acceptable. As we once kicked the tobacco companies out of our cultural institutions we must now do the same to the oil industry.