Shell’s headquarters were targeted by Greenpeace UK activists, in parallel with an ongoing Greenpeace International climate justice protest at sea, as Shell posted record annual profits of £32.2bn ($39.9bn).

At first light, activists set up a huge, mock petrol station price board outside the company’s London HQ. The 10-foot board displays the £32.2bn Shell has made in profits in 2022, with a question mark next to the amount it will pay towards climate loss and damage. The campaigners are calling on Shell to take responsibility for its historic role in the climate crisis and pay for the devastation it causes around the world.

To put Shell’s huge profits today into perspective, it amounts to well over double the conservative estimates of the £13.1bn Pakistan needs to recover from last year’s devastating floods.

Today’s protest is happening in parallel with another ongoing Greenpeace International protest at sea, in which four brave activists from climate-impacted countries are occupying a Shell oil and gas platform in the Atlantic Ocean as it makes its way to the North Sea Penguins field. The activists boarded the platform near the Canaries from Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise.

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Virginia Benosa-Llorin, a Greenpeace Southeast Asia climate justice campaigner currently on board the Arctic Sunrise, said: “Where I’m from, San Mateo, Rizal, in the Philippines, got battered by typhoon Ketsana in 2009, which killed 464 people and affected more than 900,000 families, including mine.

“My husband and I saved up for years to buy our own home, and tightened our belts to furnish it, bit by bit. Then came Ketsana. In one sweep, everything was gone. Watching the water rising rapidly while we were trapped in our tiny attic was horrible; I felt like the rain wouldn’t stop. The only escape was through the roof, which my husband started to break. It was a long, horrendous day.

“People in the Philippines are suffering greatly despite the country’s tiny contribution to climate change, and that is an immense injustice. Carbon Majors like Shell are harming our lives, livelihoods, health, and property by continuing to drill for oil. They must stop this destructive business, uphold climate justice, and pay up for loss and damage.”

Victorine Che Thöner, a Greenpeace International climate justice campaigner who is also on board the Arctic Sunrise, said: “My family in Cameroon is living through long periods of droughts that have led to crop failure and increased living costs. Rivers are drying up and long-awaited rains don’t come. When the rains do finally fall, there is so much that it floods everything – homes, fields, streets – and again people struggle to adapt and survive.

“But this crisis is not limited to one part of the world. I live in Germany and, last year, so many crops dried up because of long heatwaves and drought – my own fruit and vegetables that I was growing in my little field perished – and forest fires ravaged fauna and flora and caused air pollution.

“There is one major actor fuelling the parallel climate, nature and cost of living crises: fossil fuel companies. It’s time to build new ways of living and collaboration that work for people, not polluters, and that restore nature rather than destroy it.”

Responding to Shell’s breathtaking profits, senior climate justice campaigner for Greenpeace UK Elena Polisano, said: “Shell is profiteering from climate destruction and immense human suffering. While Shell counts their record-breaking billions, people across the globe count the damage from the record-breaking droughts, heatwaves and floods this oil giant is fuelling. This is the stark reality of climate injustice, and we must end it.

“World leaders have just set up a new fund to pay for the loss and damage caused by the climate crisis. Now they should force historical mega polluters like Shell to pay into it. It’s time to make polluters pay. If they had pivoted their business and transitioned away from fossil fuels sooner, we wouldn’t be in such a deep crisis. It’s time for them to stop drilling and start paying.”

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Shell’s unprecedented profits will likely attract negative attention for the company and its new boss Wael Sawan. Although Shell will soon pay tax in the UK for the first time since 2017, it has happily accepted £100m from UK taxpayers over those years, and has most recently come under fire for claiming £200m from Ofgem for taking on home energy customers whose suppliers had gone bankrupt.

And instead of investing its profits back into clean, cheap renewable power which could alleviate bills, shore up UK energy security, and ease the climate crisis, Shell has funnelled billions back into shareholder pockets in the form of buybacks. In the first six months of 2022, Shell invested just 6.3% of its £17.1bn profits into low carbon energy – but they invested nearly three times more in oil and gas.

By Jasmine Watkiss for Greenpeace UK