Protesters calling for an end to the fossil fuel business blocked the entrance to an industry meet-up in Edinburgh.
The Scottish Energy Forum held its annual dinner in the Scottish capital on Friday, and as attendees dressed in suits, kilts and smart dresses walked in protesters held a ceilidh, handed out flyers and held placards calling for an end to the fossil fuel industry.
Protesters were from groups including Extinction Rebellion Scotland, Edinburgh Youth in Resistance, and Fridays For Future, as well as other groups.
When the dinner began in the Morrison Street conference centre, some activists occupied the entrance of the building while holding banners which said “no new fossil fuels” and “no new oil and gas”.
Duncan Harbison, 29, said: “We’re here today to protest against the Scottish Energy Forum, until 2019 known as the Scottish Oil Club, who are in the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) having a celebratory dinner over how much profit they’ve made and how much the fossil fuel industry is growing despite us being in the middle of a climate crisis.”
The protester, who is part of the Stop Rosebank campaign, said it was campaigning against new fields and the “constant expansion of the industry”.
“I wish it was possible that we could just turn off all the taps overnight, the energy infrastructure might not quite be there to do that immediately.
“So we’re campaigning against new fields because the industry is constantly expanding.”
Billed as a highlight of the energy calendar, the event is promoted by organisers on their website as an “opportunity to celebrate and enjoy an evening of entertainment amongst friends and colleagues”.
Inside, diners had the chance to enjoy a three course meal, which included options of a smoked mackerel rillette starter and a butter roast breast of chicken main.
Guest speakers included Nick Robinson, the BBC’s former political editor and presenter of the Today programme, and former Conservative MP Laura Sandys, who has a number of roles including being chairwoman of the British Standards Institute Advisory board on Net Zero.
Mr Harbison said protesters were also demanding that the conference centre not host events for the oil and gas industry.
The protester said: “Because it’s a building owned by a subsidiary of the council, the council is committed to being net zero by 2030, and this goes completely against that and sends the wrong message to the rest of the city.”
A spokesman for the conference centre said: “The EICC hosts conferences and events for organisations from multiple industry sectors, and the venue is a space in which a diverse range of discussions and points of view are exchanged.
“We appreciate that some of these points of view will be contentious to certain groups and individuals, and we are always vigilant to ensure that there are no breaches of legality around any events we run at the venue.”
The Scottish Energy Forum has been approached for comment.
Its routes date back to 1975 when it was set up as the Edinburgh and Leith Petroleum Club. In 1998 it merged with Glasgow-based Oil Club, when it became known as The Scottish Oil Club, before changing its name again in November 2019 to The Scottish Energy Forum.
Its members include BP, Shell UK and Net Zero Technology Centre.
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