Shell: it's time to separate the sponsor from the sport

Exposing Shell's Arctic drilling plans at the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix
All rights reserved. Credit: Greenpeace
Shell spends millions on the safety-conscious grand prix but is bent on risky Arctic drilling
Image caption: 
Shell spends millions on the safety-conscious grand prix but is bent on risky Arctic drilling

Much like the movement to
save the Arctic, Grand Prix fans are made up of all sorts of people. I would
know - I was a big fan of the sport growing up.

Is it possible that a lifelong
environmental and social justice activist can harbor a secret love of racing? I’d
like to think we embrace diversity in the movement and celebrate different
points of view.

In fact, I bet there are plenty of environmentalists in the
grandstands at the F1 today, just as there are many secret F1 fans in

My interest in F1 started way
back when I had a roommate who absolutely loved it - she would sometimes get up
at 2am just to watch it. And before long, she got me hooked,
too. So I can certainly respect the technology, sportsmanship and innovation
that are at the heart of the Formula One Grand Prix.

But what I can’t respect is what the sponsor
of the event, Shell, is doing to the Arctic. Far from a legacy of victory,
Shell has been leading the race for extreme fossil fuels all over the world. From fracking in my home country of South Africa, to spilling oil in the Niger Delta, to devastating Indigenous
communities in Canada’s tar sands and - last but not least - risking everything
to get at the oil that the melting Arctic is opening up.

Shell has proven time and again that it will
cut the most dangerous corners in the race for the last drops of oil on the

But while Shell is accelerating into a
hairpin turn with faulty brakes, the rest of us are in a different kind of race
— the race to protect the Arctic from an oil spill that would devastate this
fragile region. Every driver knows that oil on the track spells disaster; an
oil spill in the Arctic would be catastrophic.

Scientists are telling us
that the Arctic is spinning out of control. As the planet warms, the ice melts,
and Shell and other companies move in to drill for more of the oil, which warms
the planet, which melts the ice. It’s a vicious circle, insanity and greed at
its very worst, and we have to stop it.

All life on earth relies on
the Arctic ice sheet to stabilise the global climate by reflecting the sun’s
heat back into space — without it, we are facing a very different world. That
is why in the last year, nearly four million people from all over the world
have joined the movement to save the Arctic, and to stand up to Shell and the
other companies gunning for a piece of the pie.

This is not the kind of
business that earns a company a spot on the podium. But together we can make
sure the truth of Shell's dirty Arctic dealings gets out there.

Join us in sending a message
to Shell that the Arctic is not its test track. Tell Shell that you can love F1
and polar bears, too. If we work together, we can Save the Arctic and avert catastrophic climate change.

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