19 May 19
A small Australian delegation flew to Oslo, Norway, to take the Fight for the Bight directly to Equinor’s land. Led by Peter Owen from the Wilderness Society, it included aboriginal elder and singer Bunna Lawrie, Patagonia surf ambassador Heath Joske, and was supported by Greenpeace Norway.
On Wednesday the 15th of May, Heath and the delegation took the anti-drilling message directly to the Equinor board at their annual AGM, which was entirely focussed on the Bight, encouraging them to vote against the company’s Great Australian Bight proposal.
On the day, at least 150 people were in the room, with a number of groups opposing the proposal; Greenpeace Norway, the youth Labour Party, Grandparents’ Climate Action, WWF, Followthis.org, a politician from the party Venstre and a concerned citizen all mentioned the Bight in their speeches.
Proposals at the AGM included:
* Greenpeace Norway presented a shareholder proposal that the company should refrain from oil and gas exploration and production activities in frontier areas, immature areas and particularly sensitive areas
* A Shareholder proposed that Equinor set medium and long-term quantitative targets that include Scope 1, 2 and 3 greenhouse gas emissions
* Another Shareholder proposed that the board present a strategy for real business transformation to sustainable energy production, thus reducing Shareholder risk and ensuring Shareholder values
No proposals were adopted by Equinor.
Patagonia Surf Manager for Europe, Gabriel Davies says:
"The delegation spoke with back-to-back powerful and positive statements in what was otherwise a very depressing corporate atmosphere. The many different reasons why this drilling shouldn't go ahead was communicated directly to the shareholders of Equinor, and it was powerful. The Australian delegation's impact was loud and clear around the issue of the Bight and the impacts of continuing to drill as the world recognizes the climate crisis."
"Also, outside the AGM the scene was hopeful with many people protesting, including Ziggy Alberts who finished his recent tour in Oslo and flew across to join the delegation in opposing Equinor."
Heath Joske spoke at the AGM and also personally delivered letters from over 300 concerned Australians to Equinor CEO Eldar Saetre. In his AGM address, Heath referred to the growing opposition to the proposed drilling, citing the open letter signed by Australian surfing world champions.
Heath Joske says:
"After the proposals, there was a period where stakeholders could comment. The delegation spoke well and the half a dozen Norwegians who spoke after the Australians were all supporting us in our fight."
"The CEO made a general statement at the end that basically said what they have always said, which is that the conditions are similar to the North Sea and that they are confident to drill the well safely, and that NOPSEMA will handle the approval process."
What does this mean for the campaign?
Norwegian citizen Rune Woldsnes from the Fight for the Bight Alliance:
"For the campaign, the AGM is not an end-point in any way. It is a step on the way to getting Equinor out of the Bight. There is no question the board got the message. This was the 'Bight, climate and emissions' AGM."
Brynn O'Brien from the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility:
"I have never seen a board and CEO go to such lengths to avoid answering legitimate questions from shareholders — the format of the AGM was designed to produce this outcome. Perhaps they have no answers. There are no good reasons to continue frontier fossil fuels exploration in a time of climate crisis."
For Heath Joske, the next steps for him are to head north to Lofoten where he will meet with local campaigners in that area who were successful in stopping oil exploration in their own sensitive marine environment.
Please find the following link to download Heath’s speech & a number of images from the Equinor AGM HERE:
Join us in saying no to Big Oil in the Bight! TAKE ACTION HERE
- Author: Hayley Davis, Patagonia, Torquay