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Greenpeace blocks BP HQ with solar panels on new CEO's first day | Business

Greenpeace members have blocked BP’s headquarters with solar panels and oil barrels to mark Bernard Looney’s first day as chief executive.

About 100 environmental activists took 500 solar panels to the central London building at 3am on Wednesday as Looney prepared to take up his new role. Some protesters sat underneath the solar panels after they were prevented from installing them on the pavements and roads near the office.

Others locked themselves to oil barrels bearing the BP logo in front of the six doors around the building to stop staff from entering. About half of the activists remained outside the premises in St James’s Square, close to Piccadilly Circus, four hours after the start of the demonstration.

Police officers stand near activists locked to dirty oil barrels who blocked BP’s headquarters in London to mark the first day of the oil giant’s new chief executive.

Police officers stand near activists locked to dirty oil barrels who blocked BP’s HQ in London to mark the first day of the company’s new chief executive. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA

One of the protesters, Richard George, said: “This morning, police managed to block our solar installation but BP are trying to block the transition to clean energy on a global scale. Their lobbyists have the ear of governments around the world, they spend millions blocking action to fix the climate emergency and billions on drilling for more oil and gas to make it worse.

“Floods, droughts, forest fires and hurricanes all over the globe start right here with the plans made in BP’s headquarters.”

Looney, who joined BP in 1991, takes over from Bob Dudley, who steered the oil and gas company through its response to the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010.

Solar panels were delivered to the entrance of BP’s HQ in London.

Solar panels were delivered to the entrance of BP’s HQ in London. Photograph: Chris J Ratcliffe/Greenpeace/PA

George said: “Their new CEO needs to accept that, if BP wants to keep trading in the 21st century, they need to switch to 100% renewable energy. We’re not going to settle for a green-themed rebrand, solar panels on their petrol stations or wind turbines on their oil rigs.

“The only realistic response to the climate emergency is to cut emissions. BP need to stop wasting billions drilling for more oil and gas that we simply can’t burn, and produce a plan to get out of the oil business entirely.”

BP has frequently been challenged by climate change activists, who have targeted its sponsorship of art institutions and its alleged lobbying.

In June, protesters from Extinction Rebellion targeted the Royal Opera House during a BP-sponsored screening of Romeo and Juliet.

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Last year the Royal Shakespeare Company ended its partnership with the oil company, which had sponsored the theatre’s £5 ticket scheme for 16- to 25-year-olds.

Looney, who was visiting staff in Germany on Wednesday, shared the “deep concerns” of climate protesters, BP said in a statement.

He will set out his vision for BP’s response to the low-carbon energy transition in a speech next week. BP said Looney “hopes that what he has to say then will give people a sense that we get it and are very serious about working to address the problem”.

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