Greenpeace says it is target of 'intimidation lawsuit' by Shell

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Environmental group Greenpeace said Thursday that it is the target of an “intimidation lawsuit” brought by Shell, which the group says is trying to stop them from protesting at Shell’s locations.

Greenpeace said that the lawsuit, which was filed in London, was in response to a “peaceful protest” led by Greenpeace International from earlier this year, where activists occupied a moving oil platform “to protest against the climate change loss and damage caused by Shell.”

Greenpeace said the protest included six activists who occupied the platform for 13 days.

“The claim is one of the biggest legal threats against the Greenpeace network’s ability to campaign in its more than 50-year history,” the organization said in a press release.

“Campaigners believe the aggressive legal tactics are a bid to silence growing dissent over moves by Shell’s chief executive Wael Sawan to double down on fossil fuel investment and abandon any pretense of transition to renewables,” the press release stated.

The protesters were calling on Shell to halt its drilling for new oil and gas and to “take responsibility for causing climate breakdown.” 

In correspondence since, Shell said that the damages would be more than $8 million but that they would settle for $1.4 million if Greenpeace agrees to not protest at any of Shell’s infrastructure at sea or in port again. If Greenpeace does not agree, the organization said Shell would seek a $8.6 million damages claim.

A Shell spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill that the company’s “intent has been misrepresented” when asked about Greenpeace’s claims that it was an intimidation lawsuit.

“This is simply about preventing activities at sea or in port which could endanger peoples’ lives — as happened earlier this year — nothing more,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said that while the company respects the right to protest, it “must be done safely and lawfully.” The spokesperson said that boarding the moving platform was “unlawful and extremely dangerous.”

The spokesperson said that the damages Shell is seeking is for related costs, including adding an extra safety vessel and upping security at the port.

“The safety of the protestors – as well as the crew – was paramount. Rightly, we did not hesitate to put in place measures to protect all people involved. Shell and its contractors are entitled to recover the significant costs of responding to Greenpeace’s dangerous actions,” the spokesperson said.

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