Activists scaled a London monument during the Changing of the Guard procession as part of a protest targeting an upcoming fossil fuel conference. Fossil Free London scaled the Wellington Arch on Friday 22 September, unfurling banners while troops on horseback passed by.
Fossil fuel conference dressed up as ‘energy intelligence’
The Energy Intelligence Forum is the world’s largest annual gathering of energy companies. It’s happening from 17 to 19 October. The forum says on its website that:
In 2023 the Energy Intelligence Forum returns to London – bringing together decision-makers, thought-leaders and innovators from the worlds of energy, finance, politics and business to debate, discuss and develop sustainable solutions to the world’s energy challenges.
Hosted by Energy Intelligence, the leading energy information company, the Forum presents opportunities for high-level networking and discussion with the industry’s leading executives and experts.
Energy In A Divided World | The 2023 #EIForum brings you thought-provoking discussions, unique insights and diverse perspectives.
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— Energy Intelligence Forum (@EI_Forum) September 13, 2023
Meanwhile, the guests include bosses from notorious fossil fuel companies such as Shell, TotalEnergies, and Saudi Aramco. CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company Sultan Al Jaber is also speaking. Without irony, he’s also president of the COP28 climate conference. Compounding all this is the attendance of the UK government, with UK energy minister Graham Stuart MP representing it.
One of the problems with the conference is that it will be discussing topics including the viability of “clean energy“, while having fossil fuel companies in attendance. As the Canary‘s Hannah Sharland previously wrote, corporations like Shell and TotalEnergies are claiming to be transitioning to renewables. However, in reality they’re doing nothing of the sort. Sharland wrote about a Greenpeace report which found that:
in 2022 these energy majors generated only 0.3 percent of their total production through renewables. The remaining 99.7 percent came from oil and gas production. On top of this, Greenpeace highlighted that there is a “one-sided fossil dominance of investments”.
Specifically, the group identified that the companies funnelled 92.7% of investments towards their fossil fuel operations in 2022. Conversely, they directed just 7.3% towards sustainable energy and low-carbon power production.
It’s no surprise, then, that the upcoming London event used to be called the “Oil and Money conference“. So, on 22 September activists from campaign group Fossil Free London showed their anger at the conference taking place.
‘Oily money out’ of London
The Wellington Arch is just a few minutes’ walk from the Intercontinental Hotel on Park Lane. It will be hosting the Energy Intelligence Forum. So, Fossil Free London chose to adorn the arch with banners while the Changing of the Guard took place:
The stunt is the latest in a series of protests by Fossil Free London. As Sky News reported, on 31 August the group disrupted a performance of Romeo and Juliet at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre. It was over Barclay’s sponsorship of the venue. The bank has financed $150bn into fossil fuels since 2015.
Then, Fossil Free London also disrupted science minister Michelle Donelan’s speech at the CogX AI festival, over Shell’s sponsorship of it, as well as the government’s plans to open a new oil field:
— Fossil Free London (@fossilfreeLDN) September 12, 2023
On the group’s action at the Wellington Arch, Joanna Warrington of Fossil Free London said in a press release:
The bosses of these giant oil companies will be schmoozing with the president of COP28 and the UK’s climate minister at the Oil & Money summit. It’s an oily stitch-up!
The fossil fuel industry sits at the polluted heart of the climate emergency. We want them and their oily money out.
Out of our politics. Out of COP28. Out of our lives and futures. That’s why we’re targeting the biggest annual gathering of fossil fuel companies and inviting everyone concerned about the climate emergency to join our disruption at Oily Money Out.
We will not sit by as oil companies destroy our communities and burn our only home for the sake of profit.
Fossil fuel companies: not to be trusted
As Sharland previously summed up for the Canary:
you can’t put fossil fuel companies in charge of the greenhouse. Invariably… their relentless pursuit of profit means that they only know how to turn up the heat and set the world on fire.
So, Fossil Free London is right to start its protests to the Energy Intelligence Forum now – and it will likely stage more of them at the conference itself.
Featured image and additional images via Fossil Free London
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