The Scottish arm of climate activists Extinction Rebellion have stepped up their protest by laying siege to the corporate headquarters of world oil giants Shell.
In a dawn raid starting at 6:30am, they formed blockades to all entrances of the firm’s site on Altens Farm Road in Aberdeen.
The location is significant given the city is viewed as Europe’s oil capital. It also comes a week after three women activists scaled a rig leased to the firm in Dundee harbour.
The group says their plan is to shut the building down all day to disrupt business operations.
They dragged their flagship protest vehicle – a big purple boat named Amal Gous – across the main entrance to prevent staff and visitors entering. Emblazoned across its side are the words:
“The Future You Fear Is Already Here”
The vessel is named after a tea seller and activist from Sudan. She was one of around 200 peaceful protesters who killed during an uprising on June 3.
They said it was a “reminder that catastrophic climate change is already underway across the planet, driven by Shell and the rest of the fossil fuel industry. Last week, as bushfires caused by climate change choked Australia, Shell celebrated the discovery of a huge new gas field off the coast of Western Australia.”
More disruption was expected to follow in the city centre itself. A group called the Red Rebel Brigade were to conduct a protest performance piece and walk through Aberdeen City Centre, starting at the train station at 1pm then onto Union St then the Harbour.
Michael, 57, a management consultant from Renfrewshire, taking part in the action said: “Governments and corporations like Shell all agree that my children are facing a catastrophic climate and ecological collapse yet are doing next to nothing to prevent this.
“I’m here today because as a parent I am ultimately responsible for the safety of my children whether today, tomorrow or in 30 years time.”
This action was part of their so called Rig Rebellion 2.0 – a two week long campaign by XR Scotland targeting the fossil fuel industry and the institutions which prop it up.
They are calling for a “just transition lead by a legally binding citizens’ assembly”.
Extinction Rebellion Scotland said Shell was being targeted specifically because they believe it to be one of the top ten worst carbon emitters in the world, and fear that will get worse if it increases output of oil and gas by more than 35% in the next decade as some project.
Fellow activist Paul, 43, from Aberdeenshire said: “”If the whole world reaches zero carbon emissions by 2030, we only have a 75% chance of staying below 2°C. These are terrible odds; and by committing to continued production decades into the future, Shell is literally destroying our future.
“The more successful fossil fuel companies like Shell are, the worse our future is going to be. We have to stop them carrying on as if their product does no harm. ”
Activists revealed the action was also in part to show solidarity with the Ogoniland community.I n the ’90s in the Niger Delta, Shell was accused of being instrumental in the killing of nine indigenous activists, who protested their badly managed and ecologically damaging pipelines; the Ogoni Nine.
Annie, one of the protestors involved, said: “Since the 1990’s shell have been aware of the sheer scale of the climate emergency and their contribution to it. They put a lot of money into misinformation campaigns and lobbying to ensure the public were not aware.
“Now they are misinforming the public through greenwashing advertisements.
“When still 95% of their profits come from greenhouse gases. Shell are perpetrators of the climate crisis and I am here today to highlight this.”
However industry representatives reacted angrily.
Oil and Gas UK communications director Gareth Wynn said: “Climate change will be solved by practical actions not conspiracy theories and stunts.
“It’s disappointing that this group is choosing to disrupt the normal working day of people in this industry, causing alarm rather than engage in meaningful discussion with key decision makers.
“Our industry is packed full of people with the engineering and environmental knowledge and skills to play a key part in reducing emissions and we are already taking action.”
Police Scotland Chief Inspector Davie Howieson, the local area commander, confirmed: “Officers are currently in attendance at a peaceful protest in Wellington Road, Aberdeen, outside the Shell premises.
“The road was blocked from around 06:45, and road users are advised to avoid the area for the time being.”
He added: We are liaising with both Shell and the protest organisers, Extinction Rebellion.”
A Shell spokesman said: “The heightened awareness of climate change that we have seen over recent months is a good thing. As a company, we agree that urgent action is needed.
“What will really accelerate change is effective policy, investment in technology innovation and deployment, and changing customer behaviour.
“As we move to a lower-carbon future, we are committed to playing our part, by addressing our own emissions and helping customers to reduce theirs – because we all have a role to play.”
CREDITS: Images from Extinction Rebellion Scotland