February 17, 2020 / 10:25 AM / 2 months ago

Environmental activists stage protests at commodities groups in Geneva - police

ZURICH (Reuters) - Environmental activists staged protests at offices of commodities groups Cargill [CARG.UL], Vitol [VITOLV.UL] and Mercuria in Geneva on Monday, Swiss police said on Monday.

About 50 activists were present for about 15 minutes at Cargill’s offices, but then left, a spokesman for Geneva cantonal police said. Sit-ins lasted for most of the morning at Vitol and Mercuria offices in downtown Geneva.

Environmental group Extinction Rebellion Switzerland posted videos of protests in Geneva and Lausanne on its Facebook page.

Activists splashed red paint on the sidewalk of Rue de Rhone outside the office of another energy trader, Gunvor Group, and used masking tape to draw body outlines like those seen in detective films.

“We targeted the private sector, specifically large multinational companies involved in trading commodities which contribute to climate disruption,” activist Anais Tilquin said.

“We hope and we are trying to force (the government to act) by mobilizing people in the street. These type of symbolic acts have been very effective with banks.”

A Reuters witness saw a few dozen activists gathered nearby afterwards, next to a coach that had brought them to Geneva.

“Vitol recognizes the need for the energy mix to evolve over time and is already investing in renewable and alternative energy projects,” a spokeswoman for Vitol said.

“We engage with a range of stakeholders on these matters, and will continue to engage in constructive and informed dialogue.”

A spokesman for Mercuria declined to comment.

Vitol, along with other major energy traders, has started investing hundreds of millions of dollars in cleaner energy projects from wind to solar, as well as using waste fuels to make biodiesel.

Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz and Cecile Mantovani in Geneva, additional reporting by Emma Farge and Julia Payne in London, Editing by Michael Shields

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