The elite of the oil and money conference, they have no intention of transition. Their plan is to continue this destructive search of profits.
Climate activists including Greta Thunberg have gathered outside a central London hotel where oil executives are meeting to demand they remove their money from national politics.
They say that fossil fuel companies are deliberately slowing the global energy transition to renewables in order to make more profit, highlighting how this year’s UN climate conference president is also the CEO of an oil company.
Organised by the group Fossil Free London, the protesters attempted to block access to the InterContinental Hotel on Park Lane by sitting and standing on the pavement by the entrance.
Five people were arrested on suspicion of obstructing a highway and taken into custody, the Metropolitan Police said.
The activists said they will continue their actions throughout the planned Energy Intelligence Forum, which is due to last over the following three days.
Addressing journalists outside the hotel, Miss Thunberg said: “The world is drowning in fossil fuels. Our hopes and dreams and lives are being washed away by a flood of greenwashing and lies.
“It has been clear for decades that the fossil fuel industries were well aware of the consequences of their business models, and yet, they have done nothing.
“The opposite – they have actively delayed, distracted and denied the causes of the climate crisis and spread doubts about their own engagement in it.”
Dozens of protesters blocked Hamilton Place at both ends with banners and pink umbrellas with eyes painted on, shouting “oily money out” and “cancel the conference”, while others lit yellow and pink smoke flares.
A white fence surrounded the hotel entrance keeping protesters out while police smuggled conference attendees through the crowd of chanting activists and a samba band.
Miss Thunberg said: “We cannot let this continue. The elite of the oil and money conference, they have no intention of transition.
“Their plan is to continue this destructive search of profits. That is why we have to take direct action to stop this and to kick oil money out of politics.
“We have no other option but to put our bodies outside this conference and to physically disrupt. And we have to do that every time, we have to continue showing them that they are not going to get away with this.”
During the demonstration, activists from Greenpeace abseiled down from the roof of the hotel to unfurl a banner reading “make big oil pay”, while a strong wind billowed the message and the protesters against the side of the building.
Speakers at the conference include the CEOs of Saudi Arabia’s Aramco and Norway’s Equinor, the German ambassador to the UK and Graham Stuart, UK energy security and net zero minister.
Mr Stuart has previously said that allowing oil and gas companies to continue drilling the North Sea for resources is necessary for energy security.
Protesters and energy analysts have said any new fossil fuel projects, such as Rosebank which was recently granted consent to begin operations, would have no immediate effect on consumer bills and would mostly be sold abroad.
Lauren McDonald, a campaigner against Rosebank, said: “The only reason that they continue to pursue this is for profit, there is no justification for this.
“So as we head into another round of climate talks, we are demanding that Norway – that wealthy happy country that is powered by green energy at home – we are demanding that Norway stops putting the brakes on other countries’ energy transitions.
“We are demanding that Norway stops profiteering while others around the world are struggling to pay their bills, struggling to live and struggling to survive in our destabilising climate.”
On the arrests, a Met Police statement said: “At 7.18am we responded to reports of a protest outside a hotel in Park Lane. “Five people have been arrested on suspicion of obstructing a highway and taken into custody. Officers remain in the area.”
Danny Halpin is the PA environment correspondent.