Greta Thunberg arrested after joining protesters outside Energy Intelligence Forum in London

"We have no choice but to disrupt. This is only the beginning of the fight."
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Greta Thunberg has been arrested after joining climate activists in central London to protest outside this year’s Energy Intelligence Forum (EIF), an event campaigners claim is “attended by a rogues’ gallery of leaders from the world’s oil and gas giants”.

Formerly called the Oil and Money Conference, the EIF, this year held at the InterContinental Park Lane Hotel, is a three-day gathering which claims to enable “energy leaders to debate and shape sustainable solutions to the energy challenges of the 21st century”.

Led by Fossil Free London (FFL) and supported by groups including Extinction Rebellion (XR), hundreds have gathered outside the hotel in protest against the climate records of those attending the forum, blocking nearby roads and access to the event under the banner “Oily Money Out”.

Also lurking among the crowds is a tall Grim Reaper-esque character, described by XR in a release as “a giant, hideous figure of death”.

XR, Fossil Free London and other climate activists have gathered outside the Energy Intelligence Forum in protest. Credit: XR.XR, Fossil Free London and other climate activists have gathered outside the Energy Intelligence Forum in protest. Credit: XR.
XR, Fossil Free London and other climate activists have gathered outside the Energy Intelligence Forum in protest. Credit: XR.

Speakers at this year’s EIF include Amin Nasser, president and chief executive of Saudi Aramco, and Anders Opedal, president and chief executive of Equinor.

Sultan Al Jaber, chief executive of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and COP28 president, was meant to address attendees, though has since been removed from the list.

In footage shared by XR, large crowds are shown gathered outside of the Park Lane hotel waving a host of banners banging drums, inducing a carnival atmosphere now a staple of their demonstrations.

Among the protesters are famous climate activists Greta Thunberg and Chris Packham.

Ms Thunberg said: "Our world is being washed away by greenwashing and lies. The fossil fuel industry has actively distracted and delayed. They have created loopholes to allow their business to go on at the expense of the planet. We are choking from their fumes. The people in power are knowingly leading us to the edge of the precipice. We cannot let this continue.

"The elite of the oil and money conference have no intention of transition. Their plan is to continue this destructive surge of profits. That is why we have to take direct action. We have no choice but to disrupt. This is only the beginning of the fight."

FFL has since said Ms Thunberg was arrested while attending the demonstration.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is arrested by police outside the InterContinental London Park Lane during the “Oily Money Out” demonstration. Credit: Henry Nicholls/AFP via Getty Images.Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is arrested by police outside the InterContinental London Park Lane during the “Oily Money Out” demonstration. Credit: Henry Nicholls/AFP via Getty Images.
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is arrested by police outside the InterContinental London Park Lane during the “Oily Money Out” demonstration. Credit: Henry Nicholls/AFP via Getty Images.

Nuri Syed Corser, an organiser with Fossil Free London, said: “We need direct action to take back the power from the oil elite that has gathered here today behind closed doors. Their only plan is to profit at our expense. Arrests like these will not deter us. Our right to protest is our own, it is not given to us by the government.”

Speaking ahead of the protest, Nigel Harvey, 60, a recycling company chief executive from St Albans, said: “I refuse to look the other way as oil and gas companies continue the reckless expansion of fossil fuels. They know this will cause untold human suffering, as large parts of our planet become uninhabitable.”

Imogen Stitch, a senior NHS psychological therapist, said: “The fossil fuel era is over and governments and corporations need to move to a rapid transition to clean energy and green jobs for future generations. But this is not happening.

“The current government has approved over 100 new licences and the Labour Party is failing to make proper pledges, which shows that they are not in it for the people but for profit and big oil. We will not stay quiet as the catastrophe brought to us by climate criminals around the world unfolds before us and continues to take lives and devastate communities. We will not stop until necessary measures are taken immediately to halt new oil, gas and coal production. We will continue to ramp up direct disruptive action targeting climate criminals and anyone that enables them.”

A Met Police statement released on Tuesday afternoon said a total of 21 people were arrested; six for obstruction of the highway, 14 for section 14 of the public order act - imposed to prevent serious disruption to the community, hotel and guests - and one for criminal damage.

The EIF has been approached for comment.