Greta Thunberg is arrested for 'refusing to move; at London oil demo

Greta Thunberg, 20, arrested by police at Fossil Free London protest after blocking entrance to luxury hotel hosting oil bosses

  • The Swedish activist, 20, was led to a police van after protesting in Park Lane
  • Eco-activists blockaded the Energy Intelligence Forum oil and gas conference

Greta Thunberg was arrested by the Metropolitan Police for ‘refusing to move’ when told to by police officers during a protest against an oil and gas conference in central London, according to eyewitnesses.

The 20-year-old Swedish activist could be seen smiling as she was detained by officers and led to a waiting police van after joining a protest outside the Energy Intelligence Forum (EIF) – formerly the Oil and Money conference – at the Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane.

In footage shared on social media, officers could be seen frogmarching the campaigner to the van as other protesters were told to stand back. The Met Police said it had arrested 21 protesters today.

Fossil Free London, which organised the demo, told the PA news agency that Thunberg was arrested while linking arms and changing with other activists; she was reportedly taken to Wandsworth police station. 

It’s the latest arrest for the campaigner, who rose to fame after she began ‘striking’ from school in 2018 over what she said was inaction by world governments to tackle climate change. 

Greta Thunberg, wearing a large badge reading ‘Oily Money Out’, is led away from the Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane by two Met Police officers 

The 20-year-old Swedish activist was led to a police van as activists watched on

Other protesters were told to stand back while Ms Thunberg smiled from the back of the police van

Ms Thunberg was crowded by officers as she was detained and led to thevan

Ms Thunberg spoke at the Fossil Free London protest outside the Energy Intelligence Forum conference in central London, where she hit out at ‘spineless’ politicians

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She had earlier spoken outside the hotel as part of a protest organised by Fossil Free London against the EIF event, urging eco-activists to ‘reclaim the power’ and hitting out at ‘spineless’ politicians for failing to act on global warming.

The Met said it arrested 14 activists under section 14 of the Public Order Act to prevent ‘serious disruption’ to the community; it did not name Thunberg.

Fossil Free London activists banged drums and chanted ‘oily, oily money, out, out, out’ as they blocked the hotel entrance; members of Greenpeace later dramatically rappelled down the side of the building to unfurl a banner reading: ‘Make big oil pay.’ 

Speakers at the conference include COP28 President-delegate Dr Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber, net zero minister Graham Stuart, former climate change minister Charles Hendry and senior figures from energy firms BP, Shell, Repsol and ExxonMobil.

Its agenda includes a discussion on whether the COP climate change gathering is ‘still relevant’.

Speaking at the guerilla protest prior to her arrest, Ms Thunberg said: ‘Behind these closed doors at the Oil and Money conference, spineless politicians are making deals and compromises with lobbyists from destructive industries – the fossil fuel industry.

‘People all over the world are suffering and dying from the consequences of the climate crisis, caused by these industries, who we allow to meet with our politicians and have privileged access to.

‘The world is drowning in fossil fuels. Our hopes and dreams and lives are being washed away by a flood of greenwashing and lies.

‘The people in power are knowingly leading us to the edge of the precipice. They know very well the invaluable things they are sacrificing in order for them to continue squeezing out profits from a dying planet.

‘We cannot let this continue. The elites of the Oil and Money conference, they have no intention of transition. Their plan is to continue this destructive search of profits.

‘That is why we have to take direct action to stop this and to kick oily money out of politics. We have no other option but to put our bodies outside this conference and to physically disrupt.

‘We have to do that every time. We have to continue showing them that they are not going to get away with this. This is only the beginning of this fight and we are going to stay and we are going to come back time and time again until we see real action.’

Activists from Greenpeace rappelled down the side of the hotel later and unfurled a banner reading: ‘Make Big Oil Pay’

Thunberg (centre) stands among protesters from Fossil Free London as they blockade an oil conference in the centre of the capital on Tuesday

Thunberg punches the air as she joins other climate protesters in the Fossil Free London action

A protester cries out as he is restrained by police following the protest in London’s Park Lane

Activists from Fossil Free London set off flares outside the Intercontinental Hotel, which is hosting the Energy Intelligence Forum meeting

Protesters banged drums, waved banners and chanted ‘oily, oily money, out, out, out’ as the Met Police supervised the action in Park Lane

A protester lights a flare outside the Intercontinental Hotel as officers from the Met look on

Met police officers move among protesters as they sit outside the hotel on Park Lane. Fencing draped in white sheets was put up outside the hotel as a protective measure

READ MORE: Climate change campaigner who sprinkled glitter over Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer boasts that eco-warriors are working with civil servants 

Thunberg added: ‘We cannot rely on politicians and the people in power to save us. They have proven time and time again that they always prioritise the fossil fuel industry and destructive industries above people, above their own citizens.

‘We have to reclaim the power, and that is what we are doing today. We have to kick oily money out.’ 

Protesters outside the Intercontinental, some of whom brought banners associated with Extinction Rebellion, chanted and set off flares as they called for the conference to be ‘shut down’.

Some held up photographs that they said showed the effects of oil and gas drilling on communities around the world.

A white fence surrounded the hotel entrance keeping protesters out while police smuggled conference attendees through the crowd of chanting activists and a samba band.

Later in the morning, activists from Greenpeace abseiled down from the roof of the hotel to unfurl a banner reading ‘make big oil pay’, while a strong wind billowed the message and the protesters against the side of the building. 

Maja Darlington, a campaigner at Greenpeace UK, told the PA news agency: ‘Oil bosses are toasting each other in a luxury hotel and plotting how to make even larger profits, while millions struggle to rebuild after a summer of extreme weather. 

‘Big oil is profiting from humanity’s loss and those who have done the least to cause climate change are being forced to pay the price.’ 

Police said they were ‘working out’ how to bring them down safely and arrest them ‘if appropriate’.

Fossil Free London says it is ‘blocking’ the conference in protest at ‘climate criminals conspir(ing) over canapés’.

The action is part of a series of ‘action days’ organised by the eco-group, which has carried out several protests across London in recent years.

It plans further action tomorrow, Thursday and Friday – including a ‘Festival of Resistance’ gathering at Marble Arch on Thursday afternoon and a ‘Rave and Resist’ after-party at the end of the week.

Director Robin Wells previously said: ‘The main purpose of protesting this forum is to make it clear that the industry is not welcome to come to our city, is not welcome to schmooze our politicians, is not welcome to profit at the expense of the collective survival and the health of the one home that we all share.’

Met Police officers could be seen monitoring the protest in Park Lane on Tuesday morning. 

Fossil Free London has accused oil producers of being ‘climate criminals conspiring over canapés’ at the event, formerly known as the Oil & Money conference

A climate activist is dragged away from the Fossil Free London protest by Met Police officers

Police stand over protesters as they sit outside the Energy Intelligence Forum at the Intercontinental Hotel. The Met says it has arrested five people on suspicion of blocking roads

Police move into the Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane as activists stage the Oily Money Out demonstration on Tuesday. Conference attendees were reportedly smuggled in by officers

Extinction Rebellion protesters brought a display of pink umbrellas emblazoned with eyeballs, and a banner reading: ‘We are watching you’

READ MORE: Greta Thunberg pulls out of appearance at Edinburgh International Book Festival in fossil fuel money row as she accuses event sponsor of ‘greenwashing’ 

The force said it arrested six people on suspicion of obstructing a highway after receiving reports of the protest at 7.18am on Tuesday. 

It arrested 14 more protesters in the afternoon for breaching section 14 of the Public Order Act and a further one for criminal damage.

A spokesperson for the force said: ‘Officers have been on scene since this morning with a group of protesters in the road outside a hotel in Park Lane, W1. 

‘We have had continued discussions with the protesters and there have been interventions by officers to enable members of the public safe access in and out of the venue. Six people were arrested for obstruction of the highway. 

‘Officers on scene have kept this under constant review and at 1232 imposed conditions on the group under section 14 of the Public Order Act given to prevent serious disruption to the community, hotel and guests. 

‘Officers asked the protesters to move from the road onto the pavement, which would enable them to continue with their demonstration without breaching the conditions. 

‘A number of protesters failed to do so and we have now made a further 14 arrests for section 14 of the public order act and a further one for criminal damage. Officers remain on scene.’ 

The Energy Intelligence Forum says it is a ‘platform for fostering debate…and finding answers to the big questions facing the energy industry’. 

Speakers at the conference include the CEOs of Saudi Arabia’s Aramco and Norway’s Equinor, the German ambassador to the UK and Graham Stuart, UK energy security and net zero minister.

Mr Stuart has previously said that allowing oil and gas companies to continue drilling the North Sea for resources is necessary for energy security.

Discussions during the three-day event include whether the annual COP conferences are ‘still relevant’ , ‘how far’ renewable power can go, and whether net zero ‘will remain the standard’.

Tickets for the conference started at £3,650 per person – plus VAT. MailOnline contacted the conference for comment on Fossil Free London’s action. 

Fossil Free London has disrupted events such as BP’s annual shareholder meeting and an assembly of industry body UK Oil and Gas last year.

Meanwhile, Thunberg was fined by a Swedish court earlier this month for disobeying police during an environmental protest in July.

The Malmo District Court ordered her to pay a 2,250 kroner (£169) fine.

Ms Thunberg, who already had been fined for a similar offence, took part in a July 24 environmental protest at an oil terminal in Malmo, where activists temporarily blocked access to the facility by sitting down and were removed by police.

On September 15, she was charged with disobedience to law enforcement for refusing to obey police asking her to leave the scene. She then was dragged away by two uniformed officers.

Net zero minister Graham Stuart is among those attending the conference, alongside the CEO of the United Arab Emirates’ state-owned oil firm, who is President-delegate at COP28

Other attendees at the Energy Intelligence Forum include Dr Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber (above) – who is both the CEO of the United Arab Emirates’ state-owned oil company and president-delegate of the COP28 conference

Thunberg pictured at Malmo District Court in Sweden last week, where she was fined 2,250 kroner (£169) after disobeying police during an environmental protest

The eco-activist, who rose to fame by ‘striking’ from school each week in protest at climate change, had to be forcibly removed from the entrance to an oil terminal in July

Thunberg admitted to the facts but denied guilt, saying the fight against the fossil fuel industry was a form of self-defence due to the existential and global threat of the climate crisis.

After the verdict, she said: ‘We have the science on our side and we have morality on our side.

‘Nothing in the world can change that and so it is. I am ready to act based on the conditions that exist and whether it leads to more sentences.’

On June 24, the same court fined her 2,500 kroner (£188) for refusing to obey police orders when taking part in a similar demonstration the previous month.

Earlier this year, Thunberg also pulled out of an appearance at the Edinburgh International Book Festival after accusing sponsors, investment firm Baillie Gifford, of ‘greenwashing’.

Tuesday’s action comes weeks after the UK government green-lit the controversial Rosebank oil field in the North Sea.

Around 350million barrels of oil are said to lie untapped in the oil field off the coast of the Shetland Islands, and Tories have hailed its approval as a means of reducing the UK’s reliance on Russian oil and gas – but opponents say the project amounts to ‘environmental vandalism’.

Lauren McDonald, a campaigner against Rosebank, said at Tuesday’s protest: ‘The only reason that they continue to pursue this is for profit, there is no justification for this.

‘So as we head into another round of climate talks, we are demanding that Norway – that wealthy happy country that is powered by green energy at home – we are demanding that Norway stops putting the brakes on other countries’ energy transitions.

‘We are demanding that Norway stops profiteering while others around the world are struggling to pay their bills, struggling to live and struggling to survive in our destabilising climate.’

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