Climate protesters disrupted a speech by a Government minister at an artificial intelligence festival in London.
Science and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan was addressing the CogX conference when activists from Fossil Free London staged a noisy protest.
Footage shared by the group shows a man interrupting the minister’s speech by shouting: “Michelle Donelan does not care about the future.
“She only cares about oily money.”
He is seen being dragged out of the hall by security before a woman is heard shouting that “Michelle Donelan and the Conservative Party are ensuring that we will not have a future”.
They demanded that the Government stop the controversial Rosebank oil field near Shetland, which is currently being considered by ministers.
Fossil Free London spokesperson Joanna Warrington said: “This Government wants to hand billions in public money to their chums in the oil industry… we can’t let them get away with it. Rosebank would be an extortionate climate calamity: pouring petrol on the bonfire of climate breakdown while doing absolutely nothing to lower our out-of-control energy bills.
— Fossil Free London (@fossilfreeLDN) September 12, 2023
“CogX is meant to be a festival of the future, but if Shell get their way, there won’t be a future for any of us. It’s inexcusable that this conference is giving a platform to companies hell-bent on destroying the only home we’ve got, all for the sake of boosting their already gargantuan profits.
“There is no place for oily money in our politics or our society. We want to make it clear that any event or organisation that accepts oily sponsorship is complicit in the crises we see unfolding around us – and we will be disrupting them every step of the way.”
Activists also protested over Shell’s sponsorship of the technology conference by disrupting two earlier panels where representatives from the oil giant were speaking.
Ms Donelan’s office has been contacted for comment.
In her speech at London’s O2 Arena, the Technology Secretary told the festival that she wants to see “the UK as the home of AI safety and, by extension, the home of AI itself”.
“Those who lead on AI safety will lead on AI – and they will unlock the enormous benefits that come with it,” she said, listing possibilities such as curing diseases, faster and greener ways to travel, and freeing people from “thousands of hours of work lost to menial tasks”.
“And it is the UK that is seizing these opportunities with both hands.”