It is about 8am on Wednesday at the port of a coastal village in Batangas, south of Manila, in the Philippines.
About 30 activists from environmental group Greenpeace are riding inflatable boats and paddling kayaks towards a large oil import facility owned by Shell.
They are escorted by the Rainbow Warrior, Greenpeace’s iconic environmental campaign ship, which has been touring calamity-stricken parts of the archipelago since early this month in commemoration of the 10th year anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan.
Once the environmentalists near the oil depot, they occupy the north and central jetties, blocking off all access for transport and delivery operations.
Some members of the oil terminal and security personnel come out to meet the protesters but the activists were not asked to leave. Greenpeace earlier informed Shell of their intentions and safety protocols prior to beginning the protest.
The activists remain in their positions and unfurl a banner at the foot of the pier. “Make climate polluters pay,” the banner reads.
This is the second time this year that Greenpeace has boarded a Shell facility to protest against its climate impact. The oil giant is suing the environmental group for US$2.1 million in damages for boarding a Shell oil vessel near the Canary Islands in January.
Greenpeace said Shell offered to reduce its claim to US$1.4 million if the activists agree not to protest again at any of Shell’s oil and gas infrastructure.
The environmental group said the protest action in Batangas is meant to draw attention to the need for fossil fuel companies to be held financially responsible for climate harms.
In 2022, a landmark enquiry in the Philippines found legal grounds to hold climate-destroying corporations accountable for the impacts of their business activities. But oil, coal and gas companies continue to expand operations in the country, drilling for more fossil fuels, and reneging on climate commitments.
“Shell and other fossil fuel companies must pay reparations to communities,” said Jefferson Chua, campaigner for Greenpeace Philippines. “President Marcos, Jr must demand corporate accountability for climate impacts and strongly advocate for climate justice – aside from pursuing all other means to exact payment from fossil fuel companies.”
Marcos, Jr was supposed to represent the country at the COP28 climate talks in Dubai, but cancelled at the last minute due to a hostage situation involving Filipino seafarers in the Red Sea.
He was expected to deliver the country’s statement which will assert the need for a framework for the loss and damage, which aims to make developed countries and fossil fuel companies pay for their climate impacts on affected communities.
The President has instead entrusted the country statement to environment secretary Ma. Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga who will deliver it at the high level plenary session on 1 December.
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