Campaigners staged interventions at Equinor’s annual general meeting

Equinor received increasing pressure over their fossil fuel expansion during their annual general meeting this week. While international campaigners, personally affected by Equinor's overseas projects, travelled to Norway to direct the spotlight to the oil company's contribution to the climate crisis, foreign investors received record high support for their shareholder proposal demanding that Equinor align their strategies with the Paris Agreement.

May 15, 2024
Campaigners staged interventions at Equinor’s annual general meeting
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A coalition of major institutional investors including Sarasin and Partners LLP, West Yorkshire Pension Fund, Achmea Investment Management and Kapitalforeningen Sampension Invest proposed a resolution that would require Equinor to update its strategy and capital expenditure to align with the Paris Climate Agreement and explain how its new oil and gas fields are compatible.

The proposal was met with record high support from other investors, 6.46% of the investors in Equinor voted for this proposal. This means that  32.1% of the non-state investors supported the climate proposal, as the Norwegian state holds 67% of the shares and “folketrygdfondet” owns 3.5%.

Greenpeace Norway and WWF Norway's proposal also gained significant support. 3.22% of Equinors  investors supported the proposal that would require the company to ensure that at least 50% of its board members have adequate experience on the energy transition and sustainability. In other words, 16.4% of the non-state shares supported our proposal 

The proposals were covered by Reuters, among others.

Global Coalition Protest Equinors Oil Expansion Plans at AGM in Stavanger. © Espen Mills / Greenpeace

Frode Pleym, Head of Greenpeace Norway, said: 

Equinor excels in one thing: Greenwashing. They spend millions on advertising campaigns,  deceiving the Norwegian public to believe that the company is moving away from being an oil company. The grim reality tells a different story. In 2023, less than 1% of the energy Equinor produced was renewable and 80% of investments went to fossil fuels. 

– We urge the Norwegian government to listen to the people from the UK, Canada and Argentina. The stories they have to tell about a company in complete disregard of climate science, protection of nature and people’s livelihoods are shocking and a disgrace for Norway. Equinor’s fossil fuel expansion must be stopped immediately, said Pleym. 

CEO of WWF-Norway Karoline Andaur said:

– The Equinor board has a massive over-representation of heavyweights from the oil and gas industry. This prevents the company from working to increase its share of renewables and becoming "a broad energy company" in line with 1.5C aligned climate targets. Equinor needs to urgently appoint candidates with the required knowledge on energy transition, climate and renewables, says Andaur.

Global movement against Equinor’s fossil fuel expansion 

Equinor faces extensive opposition in countries where they want to open new oil and gas projects. The global Equinor Out coalition brings together environmental organisations across Norway, Canada, the UK, Argentina, Brazil and Tanzania in a joint effort to stop the company’s planned fossil fuel expansion. 

Representatives from the global campaigns working against Equinor’s international projects like Rosebank in the UK, Bay du Nord in Canada  and the offshore exploration in Argentine Sea, in Argentina all attended the oil company's annual meeting.

Equinor is determined to keep profiting from oil and gas, even though climate science tells us we can’t afford any new fields, like Rosebank, and scientists are freaking out over the speed at which our climate is changing. We’re done pleading with Equinor to stop. We’re putting them on notice that we will stop this field, for the sake of a liveable future, says Lauren MacDonald from Scotland, campaigner with the Stop Rosebank campaign. 

As a marine biology student, I know how vulnerable the seabed is where Equinor is planning the Rosebank field. Equinor are choosing to prioritize their own profit over the importance of the many species that live there. Science says that we cannot start new oil projects if we are to achieve our climate goals, but Equinor is sacrificing marine life to do just that. By developing the Rosebank oil field, Equinor is endangering human life, wildlife and our future on this planet. The science is clear that no new oil fields can be built if we want to meet our climate targets but Equinor is choosing to ignore this and continue with Rosebank anyway. Rosebank must be stopped, said Natalia Kennerley, marine biology student and Stop Rosebank campaigner from Shetland. 

We cannot go on building new oil and gas fields if we want to protect life on Earth, but Equinor and the Norwegian government remain intent on developing projects like Rosebank that will push us over the edge. Areas like Shetland are particularly vulnerable to the transition away from oil and gas, but we cannot continue like this. Opening new oil fields will not solve this problem. We need to leave as much oil as possible in the ground and focus on making a safe, fair transition towards green energy in Shetland and beyond, said Andrea Sanchez, Stop Rosebank campaigner from Shetland. 

Juliana representing #Atlanicazo in Argentina

Global Coalition Protest Equinors Oil Expansion Plans at AGM in Stavanger. Juliana Orihuela from Argentina. © Espen Mills / Greenpeace

– We, the coastal communities as a network, started this unwanted relationship with Equinor and other oil companies in 2020 “thanks” to dead whales on the shore… We were NOT informed that Seismic Exploration occurred during 2019, but nature was giving us information from the bottom of the ocean. EQUINOR DOES NOT HAVE and won't ever have SOCIAL LICENSE, not in Argentina, nor anywhere else. The offshore projects stole our lives. Protecting the ocean became our main concern. Families, hobbies, personal needs, all were put behind. This battle requires all our human energy, because we don’t want to become a sacrificed zone. We want a future for our children, and we want to create that future ourselves, says Juliana Orihuela, member of Asamblea por un mar libre de petroleras, part of la Red de comunidades costeras

Activists took to the streets in St. Johns

Campaigners in Newfoundland and Labrador staged a protest outside the Equinor office in St-Johns in solidarity with the activists who traveled to Norway to speak at the Equinor AGM.

The Bay du Nord offshore oil project has already done significant damage to the local ecosystem through exploration, clearing land for the project, and building an industrial site. Bay du Nord cannot be allowed to continue polluting our oceans, lands, and atmosphere, and we cannot tolerate the environmental racism faced by local communities with an increase of noise, waste, trucks, and man-camps. This is about more than protecting the wildlife, this is also about protecting people. We are the original keepers of this land, and we have a responsibility to protect our shores from the risks of an offshore oil spill and the environmental damage from further development of Bay du Nord. We as indigenous peoples, and people living in nearby communities, did not consent to this project, and the animals didn't consent, says Jude Cutler Benoit, from the Mik’maq people, one of the indigenous groups that will be impacted by the Bay du Nord project.

Our future prosperity lies in embracing democratic energy transition, not in doubling down on risky oil and gas ventures like Bay du Nord. The project perpetuates a cycle of dependency on fossil fuels, hindering our progress towards a cleaner, greener future. It's time to empower communities and invest in renewable energy solutions that benefit everyone, prioritizing environmental stewardship and community well-being, says Kassandra Drodge, community organiser  from Newfondland and Labrador.

Read more about Equinors global projects here, and the opposition against them across the world here.