The TED Countdown Summit, taking place in Edinburgh from October 12th - 15t, was TED's first ever climate conference, intended to be "four days of inspiring talks, collaboration, connections and commitments to meaningful action for a better world.
Earlier in the week, the summit was criticised by activists in attendance for inviting Shell's CEO, Ben van Beurden, to speak on the main stage, allowing other big polluters to participate in the event, and for a shocking lack of participation and representation of activists from Scotland and the Global South. In discussions with Scottish, UK and international youth activists ahead of the event, conference organisers refused to remove van Beurden from the panel, but eventually agreed to have a Scottish activist present on stage with Shell.
Ahead of the session, activists in town for the conference organised a protest outside the event calling for Shell and other big polluters to be kicked out of the Summit. Lauren MacDonald, a Scottish Green New Deal Rising and Stop Cambo campaigner, was chosen by the group to go on stage and confront the CEO of Shell.
On October 14th, Lauren confronted Shell's CEO live on the main stage. She delivered a searing speech condemning Shell, its role in the Cambo project and the company's history of violence, exploitation, devastation and ecological destruction. You can see the footage of the confrontation on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. It now have over 400,000 views on twitter and has been shared across the world.
MacDonald powerfully stated: “You should be absolutely ashamed of yourself for the devastation you have caused to communities all over the world". She also questioned Shell’s response to a Dutch court ruling earlier this year (which ordered Shell to cut emissions by 45% by 2030 compared with 2019 levels). “If you’re going to sit here and act like you care about climate action, why are you appealing the recent court ruling that Shell must decrease its emissions by 45% by 2030?”
MacDonald and other young activists then led a walk out of the conference centre, displaying a ‘No future in fossil fuels’ banner.
Following the walk out, the activists inside the conference joined the group outside protesting the involvement of Shell, BP and other corporate polluters like Amazon. The group involved in organising the action inside and outside of the conference will be releasing a statement shortly. Additional coverage of the action can be found here:
A week later it was announced that oil and gas companies, including Shell, will have no official role in the Cop26 climate summit despite “... lobbying the government, offering money in return for exposure at the event and in one case saying they could act as an intermediary between UK officials and other governments.”
You can read more about this decision here.
Cover image credit: Alice Aedy