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 Greenpeace!
My interest in F1 started way back when I had a roommate who absolutely loved it — she would sometimes get up at 2 o'clock in the morning 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 planet.
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.
Kumi Naidoo is the Executive Director at Greenpeace International.