Consultant news editor, SciDev.Net
As angry protests against multinational oil companies go this one was quite refined.
As soon as Martin Haigh, brains behind the Shell World Energy Model, rose to tell the 2,800-strong Planet Under Pressure audience of his company’s vision of the future he was interrupted by three protesters who stepped onto the podium and unfurled a banner reading “No More Greenwash — Shell”.
The protesters (whom I understand to have been London Rising Tide) then obediently followed a security guard out of the auditorium, though they shouted a few inaudible protests as they went.
After a moment’s reflection, the audience began a little clapping which slowly grew into widespread applause. Not quite a standing ovation for the protesters, but an indication that the general inclination of a hall-full of people whose lives are spent documenting, or fighting, planetary destruction is against Shell.
Perhaps not a good launchpad, however, for the efforts of scientists to engage with industry, unless you feel that frankness should be the basis of any fertile relationship.
Haigh went on to be fairly frank. He said that changing things “is not going to happen without the participation of big companies. If you stifle the opportunity for big companies to contribute to the debate you are tying our hands behind our backs.”
“It’s very difficult to transform things quickly,” he said. “Recognition of these time frames, rather than trying to turn things around immediately, is crucial.”
Very true, none of us wants our energy supplies pulled out at the plug. But others might argue that it’s decades since the alarm was raised.
This blog post is part of our Planet Under Pressure 2012 coverage — which takes place 26–29 March 2012. To read news and analysis from the conference please visit our website.