Greta Thunberg joins climate activists in London at Energy Intelligence Forum protest

Protesters are targeting a major oil and gas conference this week to call out lobbying and record fossil fuel profits

Climate activist Greta Thunberg surprised protesters in London this morning when she joined climate activists who are targeting an annual gathering of prominent fossil fuel companies.

Activists blockaded the major forum for oil and gas representatives, referred to as the ‘Oscars of Oil’ where the world’s leading energy companies and politicians gather, in protest against record-breaking fossil fuel profits and lobbying.

Greta Thunberg joined hundreds of fellow climate campaigners outside the Intercontinental Hotel where the Energy Intelligence Forum, formerly named ‘Oil and Money Conference’, is being held over three-days. Thunberg was later arrested by the Metropolitan Police whilst at the protest, along with 27 climate activists so far.

Two Greenpeace activists also scaled the Hotel in Mayfair and unfurled a giant banner over its entrance reading ‘Make Big Oil Pay’ as part of the protest today.

Greenpeace is calling for fossil fuel companies to pay into the Loss and Damage Fund agreed by world leaders last year, which aims to provide financial assistance to nations most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Climate action group Fossil Free London are leading a series of disruptions over the three days to protest the political influence of the fossil fuel companies and banks attending. Activists started the conference off with a blockade, closing of all vehicle routes and preventing delegates from entering the summit.

Speaking at the protest, Thunberg said: “The fossil fuel industry has actively distracted and delayed. They have created loopholes to allow their business to go on at the expense of the planet.

“We are choking from their fumes. The people in power are knowingly leading us to the edge of the precipice. We cannot let this continue.”

The Swedish environmental activist continued: “The elite of the oil and money conference have no intention of transition. Their plan is to continue this destructive surge of profits. That is why we have to take direct action. We have no choice but to disrupt.”

Speaking to press this morning Thunberg said activists were “sounding like broken records”, echoing what people have been saying for decades by “raising the alarm, yet their voices have been drowned out”.

“But giving up is not an option because we know what’s at stake,” said Thunberg.

Credit: Chris J Ratcliffe / Greenpeace 

This years’ forum claims to address climate change and energy transition, however the climate action group Extinction Rebellion, which is also involved in the protest along with Greenpeace, said they ‘will not be fooled’ by this claim.

The forum is taking place just weeks before the COP28 UN climate summit which is being held in Dubai this winter, the chair of which is also the CEO of one of the world’s biggest oil companies.

An organiser from Fossil Free London accused rich oil bosses of “hijacking our politics” through lobbying, as the campaign organisation demanded that the industry must be made to pay for its polluting.

“They are spending millions lobbying our politicians to water down climate policies,” said Nuri Syed Corser, Fossil Free London organiser.

“They have even installed an oil baron as president of the COP28 global climate talks. That’s why so many people are here: to call out this corruption and get oily money out of our politics.”

The Tory Party received £3.5 million in 2022 from entities and individuals with links to fossil fuels, climate denial and high pollution industries. Whilst fossil fuel companies have been registering record-breaking profits in stark comparison to the high energy bills and cost-of-living crisis many are experiencing.

In a show of solidarity, activists from France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Germany and Norway have travelled to London to join the protest which will see further disruption take place over the next two days.  

(Image credits: Andrea Domeniconi/Fossil Free London)

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues

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