Protesters shout 'BP must fall' and disrupt annual shareholder meeting

Protesters shouting ‘BP must fall’ disrupt energy giant’s annual shareholder meeting with seven removed by security as bosses recommit to £6.4billion investment in oil and gas

  • Seven people were removed by security at the oil giant’s shareholder meeting
  • At the meeting investors committed to invest £6.4billion in oil and gas by 2030

Environmental protesters have been carried out by security after disrupting the annual shareholder meeting of oil giant BP.

The eco-activists repeatedly interrupted chairman Helge Lund and chief executive Bernard Looney, with shouts of ‘BP must fall’ from some demonstrators.

Members of activist shareholder groups Fossil Free London and Follow This both attended the meeting at the ExCel centre, in London’s Custom House, today where they called for the company to lower its climate footprint.

They failed to change the mind of investors who voted to commit to a plan for BP to invest a further £6.4billion in oil and gas by 2030, on top of an equivalent extra investment in the energy transition.

However, bosses were given a bloody nose with nearly one in five share holders voting against the £10million pay package for Mr Looney – although it did get enough votes to pass.

A protester is carried out of the ExCel centre in Custom House after disrupting BP’s annual shareholder meeting

Protesters hold banners saying ‘stop the drilling’ and ‘BP profits = cost of living crisis’ outside the meeting

At the meeting protesters from Fossil Free London disrupted the proceedings from the beginning, with one woman initially shouting that Mr Lund was ‘not telling the truth about the climate crisis’ .

READ MORE HERE:  Driver blocked by Just Stop Oil activists pleads with policeman to help him get through – but the officer simply walks past 

Referring to BP’s plan to have net zero emissions by the middle of the century, she said: ‘2050 is far too late. We are nearly at the tipping point.’

An argument broke out as another meeting attendee shouted: ‘Take a walk. Get out.’

Once she left, another woman immediately stood up and started shouting: ‘This is an emergency. Stop drilling.’

Another held a banner reading: ‘BP pay up for loss & damage.’

The protesters shouted comments like: ‘Can’t you hear us? This is an emergency’, ‘think of your grandchildren’ and ‘do you like wildlife?’

One woman yelled: ‘Do you not care about the future? What the f*** is wrong with you all? You have no heart. You have no head. BP must fall.’

The protesters were taken out by security one by one after angry shouts from other attendees calling for them to be removed. One man was carried out of the room.

As she was led out, one protester shouted: ‘BP must fall, BP must fall, BP must fall.’

Speaking from the stage, Mr Lund looked back at BP’s path towards what he claims to be a greener future.

‘I begin with 2019 because we saw accelerated concerns about climate change, a threat scientists had been warning about for decades – finally leading to a broad and intensified impetus for action,’ he said.

‘And we at BP welcomed that shift, because it began to bring what the world wanted more closely in line with what the world needed.’

Two protesters sit on the ground and shout outside the ExCel centre at London’s Custom House today

A demonstrator is carried out of the BP meeting after protesting against its plans to invest further in gas and oil

Mark van Baal, founder of Follow This, spoke at the BP AGM to encourage shareholders to vote for resolution 25, which calls for the company to align its 2023 greenhouse gas emissions reductions with the Paris Climate Agreement, a proposal the board is not supporting.

READ MORE HERE: Just Stop Oil head to the Shell HQ in Waterloo to protest (After targeting motorists, a dinosaur exhibition and the World Snooker Championships) 

Mr van Baal welcomed the progress BP had made with its investment in the transition to clean energy but added: ‘The elephant in the room is still there and the elephant in the room is only less visible between BP’s plethora of aims.’

Mr van Baal said: ‘BP has not set targets that will lead to large-scale absolute emissions reductions by 2030.’

He asked: ‘Do you really think that BP can be Paris-aligned without reducing BPs total emissions by 2030?’

BP’s chief executive Bernard Looney disagreed with Mr van Baal, saying: ‘We absolutely believe that our aims and all the work we are doing are absolutely consistent with Paris.’

BP chairman Helge Lund also said they respect Mr van Baal’s views but ‘respectfully disagree’.

Mr Lund said that the board recommended investors should vote against a resolution brought by Follow This. 

He said: ‘I and we do not doubt the good intentions of all of this and their supporters.

‘We share their desire for the world to meet the Paris goals, but this resolution is not the answer.

‘What it calls for BP to do is unclear. It does not recognise that our strategy, ambitions and aims constitute a coherent and integrated programme of transformation for BP.

‘Nor does it take into account the update to our strategy in February.

‘It would be disruptive of the strong progress BP is making on behalf of its shareholders, the board therefore recommends voting against resolution 25.’

On windfall taxes, Mr Lund said: ‘Taxes is for the authorities in the different countries we operate in to assess and to decide, and we have to live with that in the countries where we are.

Members of British Armenian hold placards outside the venue in protest at BP’s investment in oil fields in Azerbaijan

Police watch on as protesters gather to demonstrate against BP in London today

Murray Auchincloss, BP’s chief financial officer, added that the company had not paid many taxes in the US in recent years due to losses but expects ‘to be in a tax-paying position soon’.

‘In the UK, taxes are for the matter of the Government and we are not going to speculate on changes in the Government,’ he said.

He added that BP had paid windfall taxes in Europe and the UK in 2022 and that in Britain, three out of the four dollars they make goes to the Government.

The oil firm said around 18 per cent of votes had been cast against its remuneration report, according to preliminary results, despite the business making record profits last year, but the report gained enough votes to pass, meaning Mr Looney will receive a £10million pay package.

However, an attempt by pension funds to vote against the reappointment of chairman Helge Lund failed to gather enough support to oust the Norwegian. A little under 10 per cent of votes were cast against him.

Outside the meeting members of British Armenian, a charitable organisation, are holding placards outside the building reading ‘BP Choose Armenian Lives Not Oil’.

Francesca, 23, from north London, who did not want to give her last name, said they are protesting BP’s investment in Azerbaijan amid the country’s blockade of Artsakh – a disputed region with an ethnic Armenian population.

She said: ‘The reason we are here is because BP is investing in Azerbaijani oil, which is fuelling and funding an ethnic cleansing that is going on in the southern Caucuses.’

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