Shell CEO Roasted at TED Climate Conference He Was Foolishly Invited to Speak At

Home Technology Shell CEO Roasted at TED Climate Conference He Was Foolishly Invited to Speak At
Shell CEO Roasted at TED Climate Conference He Was Foolishly Invited to Speak At
Lauren McDonald confronts Shell’s CEO at TED’s Countdown conference.
Lauren McDonald confronts Shell’s CEO at TED’s Countdown conference.
Photo: Stop Cambo (Used with permission)

On Thursday, a strange scene unfolded at the International Conference Centre in Edinburgh. Shell CEO Ben van Beurden took the stage with a prominent climate scientist and Christiana Figueres, the woman who negotiated the Paris Agreement, at a TED Countdown conference. Van Beurden was there to ostensibly talk up the climate bona fides of one of the largest oil companies in the world that has promised to get to net zero while simultaneously fighting against a Dutch court ruling requiring it to lay out concrete plans to reduce emissions. Instead, he was roasted by youth activists for Shell’s complicity in worsening the climate crisis and egregious human rights abuses.

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TED Countdown bills itself as “a global initiative to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis, turning ideas into action.” The Edinburgh event was announced as a forum for speakers to give “inspiring talks” and “share a blueprint for a beautiful net-zero future.” Why, exactly, the CEO of a major oil company that has done more than almost any corporation to bring the planet to a dangerous precipice was invited to be part of that beautiful future is a mystery.

Sources in the room said van Beurden was allowed to speak uninterrupted for nearly 20 minutes. Attendees were not allowed to bring bags into the session, something that hasn’t been enforced at any of the other meeting sessions, they said.

The Shell CEO shared the stage with Scottish climate activist Lauren McDonald, Figueres, and Swedish climate scientist Johan Rockström. During van Beurden’s talk, he blamed consumers for using so much oil, a note he’s sounded before, and said his daughter asked him if he was destroying the planet. His response, according to a Twitter DM from social entrepreneur and B Corp movement supporter in France Elizabeth Soubelet, who was in the room, was, “Do you trust me to do the right thing for you?”