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Climate Activist Condemns Shell CEO on Stage at TED Summit in Scotland

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​Climate activist Lauren MacDonald confronts Shell CEO Ben van Beurden.
Climate activist Lauren MacDonald confronts Shell CEO Ben van Beurden. TEDBlog

Lauren MacDonald gave Shell CEO Ben van Beurden the reception he deserved, though likely not the one he expected at a TED Countdown forum in Edinburgh on Thursday.


After van Beurden touted the oil major's funding of clean energy and shifted blame for climate change to consumers, an industry tactic dating back to the early 1970s, MacDonald was invited to speak. MacDonald, a local climate activist, then looked the multinational oil and gas conglomerate CEO in the face and explained how his company was pushing to drill for oil near her home in Scotland.

"You should be absolutely ashamed of yourself," she said. MacDonald detailed Shell's long history of pollution and contribution to the climate crisis and noted its reported complicity in the murder of Nigerian activists in the 1990s.

van Beurden, MacDonald said, sitting just feet away, is "responsible for so much death and suffering" and then directly asked him, "If you're going to sit here and act like you care about climate action, why are you appealing the recent court ruling that Shell must decrease its emissions by 45% by 2030?"

When van Beurden declined to say Shell would withdraw its appeal of the Dutch court's ruling, MacDonald took off her mic and walked off stage.

For a deeper dive:

Earther, Fortune, The National; Full video: TED

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