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London Evening Standard: ‘Green’ protesters target Shell

London Evening Standard: ‘Green’ protesters target Shell

Steve Hawkes, Evening Standard,

16 May 2005

FRIENDS of the Earth will launch its biggest protests of the summer annual general meeting season next month when it attacks Shell over a series of ‘broken promises’ to communities affected by the oil giant across the world.

The environmental pressure group is planning to bring campaigners from Russia, South Africa, Nigeria and Brazil to London ahead of Shell’s annual general meeting on 28 June.

It will also call on MPs to put pressure on the Anglo-Dutch titan to dramatically improve its environmental and social record. A cross-party briefing is likely to be held ahead of the annual meeting.

Hannah Griffiths, FoE corporates campaigner, said: ‘The anger and frustration within communities affected by this company is mounting. Shell has made promises in the past that it has not lived up to.’

The action reflects a change of strategy by Friends of the Earth, which has previously targeted a series of companies during the traditional annual meeting calendar. This year it is focusing on just Shell and Tesco.

At previous Shell meetings, local communities have called on the board to visit their region and see some of the problems, such as controversial gas flaring in parts of Nigeria.

One US protester, Hilton Kelly, is still waiting for Shell to look into alleged high emissions from its refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, despite securing an assurance from former chairman Sir Philip Watts two years ago.

Shell will call on shareholders at the meeting to back the merger of the British and Dutch halves of the business in an historic move that will bring down the curtain on its century-old dual structure. Griffiths said: ‘We want to know how the restructuring will help solve the social and environmental problems that Shell causes.’

Shell saw off some critics last month by announcing plans to reroute a pipeline at its Sakhalin project in eastern Russia that would have crossed the feeding grounds of the endangered Western Pacific grey whale.

But others are still concerned the proposed location of a drilling platform is too close to the area.

A Shell spokeswoman said: “We believe dialogue on local issues is best done locally where the expertise and knowledge resides. If additional support or advice is needed, we will provide it.’

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