Plans to relocate Shell HQ to UK spark protests in London and Rotterdam

Featured photo credit to Dani Arguello

Campaigners gathered outside the Shell Centre in Southwest London early on Friday 10th December to protest Shell’s proposed move of management and tax base from the Netherlands to London. Accompanied by large banners and drums the activists declared Shell unwelcome and called out its stake in the climate crisis and human rights crimes.

Shell’s management announced the move earlier this month as part of a restructuring, with shareholders expected to approve the plan on the same day, 10th December. It came at the end of a turbulent year for the fossil fuel giant. In May, Shell suffered a historic defeat in Dutch course in a case brought by Friends of the Earth Netherlands and was ordered to cut emissions by 45% in 2030. By moving its tax base to the UK, Shell may hope to fend off further legal scrutiny in the Netherlands as well as avoid the Dutch ‘dividend tax’.

Megan Atkins, from Extinction Rebellion Southwark which co-organised the protest, commented: “Shell ranks among the top corporations responsible for the highest historic carbon emissions, and has known about the devastating impact of climate change since the 1980s. We cannot trust Shell’s shareholders, who profit from destruction, with our future – the fossil fuel industry has no part in our energy transition and must be shut down.”

Joanna Warrington from Fossil Free London, a climate group which also organised the protest, said: “Shell has a long history of human rights abuses and environmental destruction around the world, from the executions of the Ogoni 9 in 1995 to seismic drilling off the South African coast today. It’s time the UK stopped welcoming climate criminals, by ending tax breaks for fossil fuel companies and stopping new oil and gas fields. Londoners say: Shell, you are not welcome, not here, not anywhere. It’s time the UK stopped allowing the climate crisis to be made in London.” 

Simultaneous demonstrations in Rotterdam called for the company to “move out” of all regions where its activities inflict damage and to compensate affected communities.

“This planned move shows again that Shell’s priority is profit for shareholders instead of our environment and human lives,” said Mirjam Cramer, a spokesperson for Shell Must Fall which organised the simultaneous demonstration in Rotterdam. “Shell says that this move will benefit the energy transition, but it is clear that it will first and foremost benefit shareholders who will not pay a dividend tax in the UK. Instead of focusing on profits, Shell should be repairing the damage it is doing around the world.”

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