Police teargas climate protesters who are disrupting the AGM of an oil giant
A climate protest blockaded the entrance to an annual general meeting (AGM) of oil giant TotalEnergies on 26 May. They were protesting the company’s involvement in the climate crisis. However, French police responded aggressively including with teargas.
‘All we want is to knock down Total’
At dawn, dozens of protesters attempted to access the street in Paris where the venue, the Salle Pleyel, is located. However, police vehicles had already blocked the road. Some did get through, though, and sat on the ground in front of the concert hall.
Some chanted “all we want is to knock down Total” and “one, two and three degrees, we have Total to thank”, a reference to rising global temperatures. Others poured black liquid over their heads, amongst a diversity of other protest tactics:
Our French group @SciRebFr are taking action in Paris now to disrupt the annual shareholder meeting of fossil fuel giant @TotalEnergies.
Sadly the Police have blocked protestors from the street to allow 'business as usual' for the fossil fuel industry#DirectAction pic.twitter.com/K8LEf2xcuk
— Scientist Rebellion (@ScientistRebel1) May 26, 2023
“Total, Eacop, megaflop” – semi festive vibes amid stand-offs with police at TotalEnergies AGM pic.twitter.com/CiRlKoVmgA
— Sarah White (@SarahWhites) May 26, 2023
Marie Cohuet, spokesperson for climate justice group Alternatiba, which is involved in the protests, said:
[TotalEnergies] embodies the worst of what is done in terms of the exploitation of people and the planet.
The Canary previously reported on TotalEnergies’ human rights record. The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre linked the company to at least 42 attacks on human rights defenders since 2015, including 14 in 2022 alone. It has also announced huge profits, including £6.5bn for the first quarter of 2023 alone.
Meanwhile, it is co-leading the development of the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP). The 1,443km-long pipeline runs from Uganda to Tanzania, and has drawn criticism for its potential displacement of up to 100,000 people along the way. Local communities as well as international climate and social justice groups deeply oppose the plans.
Opposition to EACOP is also one of the main drivers of the anti-TotalEnergies protest.
Police across Europe are responding aggressively to climate protests
Police responded aggressively to the climate protest. After some protesters successfully blocked the entrance to the AGM, police issued three warnings before firing teargas into the crowd. Videos on social media also appeared to show officers using pepper spray and physically assaulting people:
#UPDATE Paris police on Friday fired tear gas to disperse climate protesters trying to block an annual general meeting of French oil giant TotalEnergies.
Dozens of protesters had converged around the Salle Pleyel venue from dawn. They chanted slogans such as "All we want is to… pic.twitter.com/GBAbr76Ot1
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) May 26, 2023
⚡️Climate activists in Paris blocked the entrance to the building where the TotalEnergies shareholder convention is to be held, the police used tear gas.
❗️TO STAY INFORMED SUBSCRIBE pic.twitter.com/uWEoD9eu1P
— CEAN Business&Finances (@ceanuniverse) May 26, 2023
Police removed climate activists from TotalEnergies headquarters in Paris after demonstrators staged a protest as the energy and petroleum company held its general assembly.
Follow Press TV on Telegram: https://t.co/RuQCIFWYoj pic.twitter.com/Xffe1zPRUX
— PressTV Extra (@PresstvExtra) May 26, 2023
French police officers’ confrontational response to protesters mirrored that of recent events in Germany. A video that spread across social media showed German police officers tackling and roughly handling road blockaders from Letzte Generation (“Last Generation”) to prevent them from stopping traffic on 23 May:
Die @PolizeiBerlin_E hatte die Klimablockaden heute schnell im Griff. Zwei Blockaden wurden verhindert , drei binnen einer halben Stunde aufgelöst. Eine Gruppe wurde noch auf dem S-Bahnhof Friedenau festgesetzt. Aktuell klebt es noch an der Frankfurter Allee, der Verkehr fließt. pic.twitter.com/RADeugRFIA
— Alexander Fröhlich (@alx_froehlich) May 23, 2023
The following day, police across seven states raided the homes of people connected with Letzte Generation. According to BBC News, police claimed they are investigating whether the group is raising funds to commit “further criminal acts”.
Protesters disrupted meetings in the UK
During Shell’s annual shareholders’ meeting in London on 23 May, activists shouted out “Go to hell Shell!”. Protesters gave BP’s shareholders’ meeting similar treatment on 27 April, and also targeted Barclays’ AGM on 3 May for its funding of oil extraction.
At the Shell shareholders meeting right now. Incredible scenes. The entire meeting is being shutdown. Shell go to hell #shutdownshell pic.twitter.com/SADuh36ngA
— ashok kumar 🇵🇸 (@broseph_stalin) May 23, 2023
In the end, around one in six shareholders backed a vote at @bp_plc's AGM demanding urgent action on climate change. But demonstrators made feelings clear by disrupting the start of the meeting. Here's a video from Fossil Free London. pic.twitter.com/AD7GEyDgnG
— Graham Hiscott (@Grahamhiscott) April 27, 2023
🔥 CHAOTIC scenes at @Barclays AGM. 🔥
We've had enough of them bankrolling oil & gas and profiteering from climate collapse.
We will stop them.#BarclaysAGMchaos pic.twitter.com/BeyXQ972ZH
— Fossil Free London (@fossilfreeLDN) May 3, 2023
These appeared to pass without an aggressive response from the police.
Climate protests continue as governments worldwide continue ignoring the need to move away from fossil fuels. The Canary reported that the recent G7 meeting resolved with ongoing commitments to expanding its funding of liquified natural gas (LNG). At the same time, COP28 – this year’s UN climate meeting – is headed up by an oil company executive that claimed fossil fuels are still necessary.
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse
Featured image via Agence France-Presse/YouTube
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