Shell's recruitment event at the Randolph Hotel taken over by campaigners

For immediate release: 21/10/2009

Shell's high-profile annual recruitment event at Oxford's Randolph Hotel was disrupted last night when members of the audience invaded the stage and took over the event. Around 20 campaigners from Thames Valley Climate Action [1] targeted the 6.30pm event in protest at the company's major involvement in Canada's Tar Sands, as well as their collusion in human rights abuses in Nigeria and Ireland, their destructive drilling in the Arctic, and their contribution to climate change. This followed on from a protest just last week, where BP's recruitment event at the Randolph was similarly disrupted [2].

The campaigners stole the stage from Shell's recruitment staff, and gave a presentation of their own, explaining how only 1% of Shell's business was in renewable energy, with 99% in oil and gas [3].

The presentation revealed that Whilst many other energy companies have been making wild promises about planned moves to reduce emissions, in March this year, Shell completely divested away from renewables. Shell is already responsible for over 100 million tonnes of CO2 a year --- over 1/5th of the total emissions of the entire United Kingdom --- and this is set to rise by 85% as a result of their investment in liquefied natural gas and Tar Sands... Since 1999, Shell and others have been despoiling landscapes, poisoning waterways and displacing indigenous peoples in order to extract the world's most costly and inefficient barrels of oil. Extracting oil from the Tar Sands emits over 20 times more than just drilling for it in the Middle East, and yet Shell is proud of its leadership in this area of "alternative" energy.” [4]

Shell staff interrupted the presentation before the end, and told the students in the room to disperse and mingle with the company's recruiters. However, of the 80 or so students in the room, at least 15 were from Thames Valley Climate Action, ensuring that the discussions across the room were dominated by the topics of climate change and Shell's outrageous record on human rights around the world. Students were informed about Shell's collusion with the Nigerian government in the deaths of local activists [5], pollution from their illegal gas flaring operations [6], their trampling of local opposition to a controversial pipeline project in Rossport, Ireland [7], their recent decision to drill in unspoilt Arctic waters, endangering the homes and livelihoods of the people who live there [8], and their enormous stake in the largest and most destructive industrial project in the world, the Alberta Tar Sands [9].

Meanwhile, other protesters disrupted Shell's corporate messaging by switching off display screens and computers. They were removed by security, but managed to run back into the hotel, shouting anti-Shell slogans. Security guards pursued them around the ballroom until they were finally ejected.

Shell declined to respond directly to the protesters' complaints, with one senior member of staff refusing to listen to a campaigner reading out a statement from an Alaskan resident living near the company's proposed new Arctic drilling site [10].

Christine Ashworth, 19, said "With 300,000 people a year dying from the effects of climate change, I'm appalled that Shell are not only making this problem worse, but they're trampling over human rights as they do it. I encourage students from all universities where Shell are recruiting to take action to stop the company extracting oil from the Tar Sands."

Laura Doughty, a second-year Oxford student, said "We were here this week, and at the BP event last week, to impress upon students that there are only two possible outcomes of taking a job in the oil industry. Either the world succeeds in tackling climate change by rapidly phasing out fossil fuels, which means your job will quickly become obsolete, or else we fail to stop climate disaster, in which case you will be partly responsible for the loss of hundreds of millions of lives, homes and livelihoods. There are green jobs out there, but not with BP or Shell!"

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

[1] http://tvca.ox4.org/
[2] See:
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/10/439938.html
and
http://blog.newint.org/editors/2009/10/16/up-close-and-persona/
[3] http://www.shell.com/
[4] The full text of the presentation is copied below
[5] http://remembersarowiwa.com/background/the-ogoni-struggle/
[6] http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=12779
[7] http://www.shelltosea.com/
[8] http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/20/shell-wins-offshore-drilling-rights-in-alaska/?hp&apage=2
[9] http://www.tarsandswatch.org,
http://www.ienearth.org,
http://dirtyoilsands.org/

The Presentation

Shell are here to invite you to their "new" energy future --- we're here from Thames Valley Climate Action and we believe that the devastating consequences of climate change put a huge question mark over that future. We hope that we will be able to give you more of the information you need to make a fully-informed choice about whether a job at Shell would really be as sustainable and secure as they're claiming.

Climate change is the biggest challenge facing humanity today --- according to Kofi Annan's Global Humanitarian Forum, 300,000 people a year are already dying from its effects. Advancing deserts, and flooding caused by sea-level rises, could lead to the loss of a 1/3 of the world's fertile land during your lifetime. This would result in food riots, mass starvation, drought and water shortages beyond anything that we've ever seen. It has the potential to dwarf the casualties of all the 20th century's wars and create 250 million climate refugees in the next 40 years.

Shell's response to this gargantuan crisis is apparently "radical new thinking", but they're still the world's most carbon-intensive oil company, and that's not set to change. Whilst many other energy companies have been making wild promises about planned moves to reduce emissions, in March this year, Shell completely divested away from renewables. Shell already emits over 100 million tonnes of CO2 a year --- over 1/5th of the total emissions of the entire United Kingdom --- and this is set to rise by 85% as a result of their investment in liquefied natural gas and tar sands --- but more on that in a minute.

Shell's primary suggestion for the future of global energy is, to quote their brochure, "socially and environmentally responsible [...] fossil fuels", which we assume refers to their interest in un-proven and ill-thought-through carbon capture and storage, ethically bankrupt and unsustainable biofuels or their favourite "sustainable energy source", the Canadian Tar Sands. Since 1999, Shell and others have been despoiling landscapes, poisoning waterways and displacing indigenous peoples in order to extract the world's most costly and inefficient barrels of oil. Extracting oil from the tar sands emits over 20 times more than just drilling for it in the Middle East, and yet Shell is proud of its leadership in this area of "alternative" energy.

Shell hasn't done too well with older fossil fuel technologies either --- since 1958 they've been "gas flaring" in Nigeria --- setting fire to the natural gas produced in oil drilling. Not only is this a gross waste of gas that could be used by Nigerian people for cooking or heating, it is the largest contributor to sub-Saharan emissions. In 1991, Shell said that they would stop gas flaring only if there was a strong business case for it, but this was deeply misleading --- the real price of gas flaring has always been paid by the local communities in unrest, deaths and serious pollution. Shell finally promised to call a halt to this shamefully-wasteful practice in 1996, and yet since that date has defied court orders and international pressure to keep the flares burning.

Shell's core values are, apparently, "honesty, integrity and respect for people". This may come as news to the inhabitants of Ogoniland, where Ken Saro-Wiwa, a vocal opponent to Shell's expansion plans in the Niger delta, was framed and hanged along with 8 of his colleagues. Shell are known to have colluded with the Nigerian military to capture and execute the campaigners, as well as engaging in the torture and intimidation of local Nigerians. In June, they paid a $15.5 million out-of-court settlement to avoid this atrocity being further exposed.

To bring the human rights issue closer to home, Shell is currently pushing through plans to finalise a dangerous experimental raw gas pipeline and refinery in North West Ireland. The pipeline will carry unrefined gas at unprecedented pressure levels, running within hundreds of metres of homes and endagering the residents. There are 33 homes within the pipeline's "kill zone", and the nearest hospital is over an hour's drive away. Not only that, but the refining process has already polluted Lake Carrowmore, which provides the drinking water for 10,000 people, and there are questions as to the legality of any such development in the area, as it is an EU-recognised special area of conservation. In 2005, an injunction against local opponents of the project resulted in 5 residents being imprisoned for 94 days.

99% of Shell's investment is in fossil fuels --- a poor showing for a company supposedly working towards a "radical" new energy future. Shell's definition of alternative energy solely includes fuels that are significantly worse than oil, and their ethical policy is meaningless in the face of a huge body-count. As graduates with a top-quality education, you have the opportunity to be at the forefont of where we go with our planet. Shell say that "for every problem, there's a solution", but with the Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute saying that we can burn no more than 20% of known fossil fuels, and Shell's shocking record on human rights, a career at Shell is not part of any solution to the problems we face.

 
 

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