Greta Thunberg, the 20-year-old Swedish climate activist, has been arrested in London after she and other protesters blocked the entrance to the Energy Intelligence Forum, an annual event that brings together leaders from the oil and gas industry. Thunberg and her fellow activists from the Extinction Rebellion group were protesting against the forum’s award ceremony, which they dubbed the ‘Oscars of oil’, and demanded an end to fossil fuel extraction and subsidies. Thunberg, who was charged with a public order offense, said she was willing to face the consequences of her actions and urged others to join the fight for climate justice.
The ‘Oscars of oil’
The Energy Intelligence Forum, formerly known as the Oil & Money conference, is one of the most prestigious events in the energy sector, attracting CEOs, ministers, and experts from around the world. The forum’s highlight is the award ceremony, where it honors individuals and companies for their achievements and contributions to the industry. This year’s recipients included Saudi Aramco’s CEO Amin Nasser, who received the Energy Executive of the Year award, and Chevron’s CEO Michael Wirth, who received the Energy Company of the Year award.
However, Thunberg and other critics argue that the forum and its awards are celebrating an industry that is responsible for driving the climate crisis and harming millions of people and ecosystems. They claim that the forum is a platform for greenwashing and lobbying, where oil and gas executives try to portray themselves as part of the solution while continuing to expand their operations and profits. They also point out that many of the forum’s sponsors and partners are companies that have been accused of human rights violations, environmental damage, and corruption.
Thunberg and about 50 other activists from Extinction Rebellion staged a peaceful protest outside the Hilton London Metropole hotel, where the forum was taking place. They held banners that read “No awards for ecocide”, “Stop funding climate chaos”, and “Oil is over”. They also chanted slogans such as “No more oil”, “Shut it down”, and “Climate justice now”. Thunberg addressed the crowd with a megaphone, saying:
“We are here today to say enough is enough. We are not going to stand by and watch as these people who are supposed to be our leaders continue to reward and celebrate those who are destroying our future. We are here to tell them that we see through their lies and their greenwashing. We are here to tell them that we are not afraid of them or their power. We are here to tell them that we are more powerful than they think. We are here to tell them that change is coming, whether they like it or not.”
The protesters then tried to block the entrance to the hotel, preventing some of the forum’s attendees from entering or leaving. The police arrived at the scene and warned the protesters to move away or face arrest. Thunberg refused to comply and sat down on the ground with a few other activists, locking arms with them. She said:
“We are not here to cause trouble. We are here to make a statement. We are here to exercise our right to peaceful protest. We are here to show solidarity with all those who are suffering from the impacts of climate change. We are here to demand justice for ourselves and for future generations. We are here to say that we will not give up until we see real action from our governments and corporations.”
The police then proceeded to arrest Thunberg and 12 other protesters, who were taken away in vans. Thunberg waved to her supporters as she was being escorted by the officers. She said:
“Thank you all for being here today. Thank you for your courage and your passion. Thank you for standing up for what is right. This is not the end. This is just the beginning. We will keep fighting until we win. We will be back.”
Thunberg’s arrest sparked a mixed reaction from the public and the media. Some praised her for her bravery and commitment, while others criticized her for her radicalism and disruption. Some of the forum’s participants expressed their frustration and annoyance with the protest, saying that it was counterproductive and disrespectful. They argued that they were trying to find solutions for a low-carbon future and that they were open to dialogue with different stakeholders.
However, some of the forum’s speakers and guests expressed their support and admiration for Thunberg and her cause. They acknowledged that she had a valid point and that she was raising awareness about a crucial issue. They also admitted that they had a responsibility to do more to address climate change and its challenges.
Thunberg’s arrest also generated a lot of attention on social media, where many people shared their opinions and reactions using hashtags such as #FreeGreta, #OscarsOfOil, and #ExtinctionRebellion. Some of Thunberg’s fellow activists and celebrities also posted messages of solidarity and encouragement, saying that they were proud of her and that they stood with her.
Thunberg was released on bail later that day, pending a court hearing. She said she was not afraid of facing trial and that she was prepared to accept the consequences of her actions. She also said she was not deterred by the arrest and that she would continue to protest and campaign for climate action. She said:
“I did what I had to do. I did what anyone with a conscience would do. I did what millions of people around the world are doing every day. I did what is necessary to protect our planet and our future. I have no regrets. I have only hope.”
Thunberg’s arrest also had an impact on the Energy Intelligence Forum, which faced increased scrutiny and pressure from the public and the media. Some of the forum’s sponsors and partners withdrew their support or distanced themselves from the event, saying that they did not want to be associated with an industry that was harming the environment and society. Some of the forum’s attendees also changed their tone or stance on climate issues, saying that they were willing to listen to Thunberg and other activists and that they were ready to take bolder actions to reduce their emissions and transition to cleaner energy sources.
Thunberg’s arrest also inspired more people to join the climate movement and to take part in protests and actions around the world. Thunberg said she was happy to see that her arrest had a positive effect and that she hoped it would lead to more change and progress. She said:
“I am not alone. I am part of a global movement that is growing stronger every day. I am part of a generation that is rising up for our future. I am part of a revolution that is unstoppable. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change we need.”