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Lauren MacDonald

Scottish climate campaigner Lauren MacDonald (right) confronts Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden during the TED Countdown Summit in Edinburgh on October 14, 2021. (Photo: Stop Cambo)

'We Will Never Forget What You Have Done': Climate Activist Grills Shell CEO at TED Forum

"So many people are already dying due to issues related to the climate crisis," said Green New Deal Rising's Lauren MacDonald, "and you are directly responsible for those deaths."

Brett Wilkins

A Scottish climate activist was hailed Thursday for poignantly challenging the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell—a company that's known since at least the 1980s that its products fuel global heating—during a TED event in Edinburgh.

"I hope you know that as the climate crisis gets more and more deadly, you will be to blame."

"Son of a gun! A TED Talk that actually amounts to something," tweeted Bill McKibben, co-founder of the climate action group 350.org, after viewing video of Lauren MacDonald, a Green New Deal Rising and #StopCambo campaigner, confronting Shell CEO Ben van Beurden.

MacDonald and van Beurden appeared on a panel along with hedge fund founder Chris James during the TED Countdown Summit, a $10,000 to $50,000-per-ticket four-day event described by organizers as a forum where "speakers share a blueprint for a beautiful net-zero future."

Looking across the stage at van Beurden, MacDonald said, "No matter what he says today, remember, Shell has spent millions covering up the warnings from climate scientists, bribing politicians, and even paying soldiers to kill Nigerian activists fighting against them, all whilst rebranding to make it look as though they care and that they have the intention of changing."

"Disproportionately in the Global South, so many people are already dying due to issues related to the climate crisis, such as pollution, extreme heat, and weather-related disasters," MacDonald continued, telling the CEO that "this is not an abstract issue, and you are directly responsible for those deaths."

"If you're [going to] sit here and say you care about climate action, why are you currently appealing the recent court ruling that Shell must decrease its emissions by 45% by 2030?" she asked, drawing audience applause. "I seriously do not understand what goes on in your mind to sit there and say, 'I'm trying to do better' when you're appealing... being legally [bound] to climate action."

"I hope that you know that we will never forget what you have done and what Shell has done," said MacDonald, adding that "I hope you know that as the climate crisis gets more and more deadly, you will be to blame," before walking off the stage to more applause.

MacDonald then joined climate campaigners under the #StopCambo and #PeopleVsFossilFuels banners rallying outside the summit venue against the U.K. government-backed Cambo oil field development off Scotland's Shetland Islands, and ahead of the United Nations Climate Conference—also known as COP 26—set to begin October 31 in Glasgow.

Daze Aghaji, another climate activist at the rally, said: "My family is from the Niger Delta, and I know the harm Shell has caused and continues to cause by pushing us closer and closer to climate devastation. This action is the youth saying enough is enough, asking the hard questions and demanding answers."

"We need Shell to commit to stopping the future harm caused by projects like the Cambo oil field," Aghaji added, "but also addressing the past harm like the murder of Indigenous activists."


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