Several campaign groups came together to stage a messy and loud protest outside the headquarters of BP in St James Square London yesterday as they held their Annual General Shareholders Meeting.

BP has recently announced its aim to be “net zero” in terms of greenhouse emissions by 2050, but activists say that frontline communities will still face ecocidal destruction, the ambition is too little too late, and it’s full of loopholes and just more greenwash.

Watched by ten police (who seemed to be acting on behalf of the private corporation) and a similar number of BP’s own private security, the activists unfurled a large banner saying “$9 billion on new fossil fuels – bp = NOT ZERO”. The banner relates to BP’s plans to push ahead with major new extractive projects in Argentina, Australia and the Russian Arctic despite researchers pointing out that we can’t even afford to burn existing reserves.

BP’s net zero claims have been debunked in a short film just released by Culture Unstained, and apart from obvious loopholes like not including a third of the oil and gas that comes from its partnership with Russian state oil company Rosneft, or relying on unproven carbon-capture technology, there’s also the issue that it’s only described as an ambition, not even a binding commitment.

Astonishingly, BP’s board urged its shareholders to vote against a resolution which would set a solid target in line with the Paris Agreement, and although more than 20% rebelled (trying to force the company into a climate commitment), the resolution was rejected.

The morning began with short speeches from Adetola Onamade and Marina Tricks, two young women who are taking the government to court over the human rights impact of the climate crisis. This was followed by a messy theatrical performance during which 3 ‘BP directors’ were covered in fake oil as they did deals, and then 2 ‘greenwashers’ tried to cover the oil (unsuccessfully) with green paint. There was also lots of loud chanting and a small samba band.

Unlike BP, the protesters cleaned up after themselves and left peacefully after an hour or so.

The event was organised by Polluters Out, Shale Must Fall, BP or not BP?, Fossil Free London, Frack Off London, and XR COP.