Climate activists put the heat on shareholder meetings
Climate activists are using shareholder meetings to turn up the heat on corporations about their carbon footprints, from flooding them with questions to more colorful tactics like singing or throwing cake at executives.
Last week's Volkswagen shareholders meeting was particularly testy, with a cake landing on the podium where supervisory board member Wolfgang Porsche, who was celebrating his 80th birthday, was sitting.
"I wanted to go directly to the source of the car lobbies," said one of the activists, Monika Krimmer, a 60-year-old psychotherapist who held up signs and handed out fliers at the Berlin meeting.
In Paris on May 16, Scientist Rebellion members inundated BNP Paribas executives with questions about the European banking giant's climate strategy, to the point of angering shareholders who hurled insults at the scientists.
BNP bosses, however, answered the questions.
"Do not underestimate the targets we have set," said CEO Jean-Laurent Bonnafe, while refusing to draw a red line regarding firms that invest in new fossil fuel fields.
Earlier this month in London, HSBC's gathering was repeatedly interrupted by climate activists, with some demanding that the bank stop investing in fossil fuel companies and others accusing the firm of lying.
Fed up with the interruptions, executives asked that the activists be escorted out.
Days earlier, a group of activists disrupted the Barclays bank meeting, changing the lyrics to a Spice Girls song to sing "stop funding fossil fuels and end this madness."
Lorette Philippot, a campaigner at environmental group Friends of Earth, said shareholder meetings are where companies discuss their performance and make new pledges.
"So, it's our role as a counter-power...