Yesterday evening, protesters attempted to blockade the Petroleum Executive of the Year Awards at London's five-star Dorchester Hotel. The event, which would set you back £1,500 [$2,300] a head to attend, is the highlight of a two-day conference for oil executives from around the world.
This year's conference is set to focus of the impact of oil price decline, the challenges facing oil exportation and the "financing of mega-dollar upstream projects and non-conventional oil and gas." Understandably, environmental activists weren't best pleased that all this took precedence over any mention of climate change.
Campaigners from Divest London, an organization demanding that institutions across the capital divest from fossil fuels, headed down to Park Lane to air their thoughts. As well as communicating those thoughts via shouting, they decided to superglue themselves to the doors of the swanky award ceremony, throw fake money at attendees heading in for the celebration, and even sent a handful of activists into the ballroom to kick up a fuss about climate change.
Chelsea Edwards, a volunteer campaigner with Divest London, explained why she was standing in the rain to scream at attendees of the black tie event: "We're here because the annual oil and money conference is on, [and] it's a grotesque reminder of how much oil companies are not heeding the warning of global warming. They're continuing with their business models, even though they've known for decades that their business is wrecking the planet."
While Dorchester security staff kept a number of protesters off the main forecourt, others managed to blockade a side entrance to the ballroom. Two had superglued their hands to the doors, much to the dismay of the first cop to arrive, while others sat in revolving doors, throwing Monopoly money at each other and laughing.
"We did this to protest against Rex Tilerson winning an award," said Ellen Gibson, who had glued herself to the glass. Tilerson is CEO of the world's largest publicly traded oil and gas firm, ExxonMobile. "ExxonMobil have known about climate change since the 1970s and have been actively funding climate denial since then to ensure legislation isn't passed that could hit their profits."
Campaign group Greenpeace estimates that ExxonMobil have channelled around $30 million to individuals and groups promoting climate change denial.
In a statement, ExxonMobil said:
"The call for divestment from fossil fuels is a misguided diversion from the search for solutions to the dual challenge of meeting economic needs while managing the risks of climate change. It also threatens the humanitarian imperative of increasing access to affordable energy worldwide. The risk of climate change is clear and warrants action. ExxonMobil is taking action by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in our operations, helping consumers reduce their emissions, supporting research, and participating in constructive dialogue on policy options.
"We have the same concerns as people everywhere—and that is how to provide the world with the energy it needs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Energy is essential to life, and responsibly developing the world's energy endowment is crucial to alleviating poverty, raising living standards, creating economic opportunity, and enabling progress for billions of people around the world."
Back at the front, guys in penguin suits who'd snuck inside the building hours before tried to storm the ceremony, but were carried out by the security detail pretty swiftly. Around 40 people then lined a security barrier, shouting at attendees one by one as they headed inside for their dinner.
Pekka Piirainen, 23, was one of those who got dragged out from the dinner.
"Most of the executives here tonight will be retired by the time my generation bears the brunt of the climate devastation they have created," she said. "We cannot stand by silently as they destroy our future."
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See more photos from last night below: