"The elites of the Oil and Money Conference, they have no intention of transition," Thunberg said ahead of her arrest. "Their plan is to continue this destructive surge of profits. That is why we have to take direct action."
Climate leader Greta Thunberg was among at least 27 people arrested in London on Tuesday at a rally against the Energy Intelligence Forum, where fossil fuel CEOs rubbed elbows with policymakers including British Energy Minister Graham Stuart and, as one campaigner said, continued "hijacking our politics to keep us hooked on their dirty fuel."
Thunberg gathered with advocates from Fossil Free London, which organized the direct action, and others outside the Intercontinental Hotel for the first of three days of protests.
The forum—formerly known as the "Oil and Money Conference"—is taking place from October 17-19, with speakers including Shell CEO Wael Sawn and TotalEnergies Chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanné.
Campaigners chanted, "Oily money out" as the executives attended events that promised to ask questions such as, "Who will pay for the transition and how?" and discuss whether global climate summits such as the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference are "still relevant."
The oil giants are convening as U.K. households are struggling with "dramatic rises in food and energy costs," said Fossil Free London, with about one in five people in the country now living in poverty amid the cost-of-living crisis while fossil fuel companies report record-breaking profits.
"The people in power are knowingly leading us to the edge of the precipice," said Thunberg before what her fellow campaigners described as her violent arrest. "We cannot let this continue."
According to campaigner Joanna Warrington, Metropolitan Police officers were "pushing press, pushing people over, pushing everyone" when they began making arrests.
"'We were linking arms when the police forced their way in and singled out Greta," said Warrington. "She was dragged down the street at speed to a police van where they refused to say where she was being taken... She was searched by a male police officer as she was put into the back of a police van alone."
"The police are again doing the dirty work of the oil elite," she added. "Greta deserves better, the world deserves better, we all deserve better."
Hours before her arrest, Thunberg addressed her fellow protesters and warned the public not to be fooled by the climate and decarbonization pledges of companies like Shell, which announced this year it would not move forward with earlier plans to curb oil production.
"The elites of the Oil and Money Conference, they have no intention of transition," she said. "Their plan is to continue this destructive surge of profits. That is why we have to take direct action to stop this and to kick oily money out of politics."
As Fossil Free London noted, both companies signed major deals in the last two years with Infosys, an information technology firm founded by the father-in-law of Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. His party also received $4.2 million, or £3.5 million, from people and groups "linked to climate denial, fossil fuels, and high-pollution industries" in 2022.
The British government last month green-lit oil and gas drilling in Rosebank, the U.K.'s largest unused fossil fuel field, even as experts warned last month was the hottest September on record and scientists linked heatwaves, wildfires, and other extreme weather to fossil fuel extraction and planetary heating.
"We've all seen the floods and wildfires," said organizer Nuri Syed Corser at the rally on Tuesday. "We all know the climate crisis is a threat to our safety and our future. We know we must stop burning oil and gas. But the super-rich oil bosses in this hotel are hijacking our politics to keep us hooked on their dirty fuel. They are spending millions lobbying our politicians to water down climate policies."
"That's why so many people are here," Corser said, "to call out this corruption and get oily money out of our politics."