Shell is the main sponsor of the Belgian Grand Prix, paying millions to have its logo plastered around the track. Before the race began, two paragliders flew over the circuit, trailing a banner slamming Shell’s Arctic drilling plans. A third team of activists hung a subverted Shell logo over the huge Shell billboard on the legendary Raidillon corner at the Spa racetrack. It has since been removed by the police.
One of the climbers on the roof of the grandstand is Tony Martin from Brussels. Before embarking on the protest, he said:
“This Grand Prix is Shell’s biggest day of the year. They’ve spent millions of Euros plastering their logo everywhere and entertaining scores of VIP guests, but the one thing they don’t want to talk about is their plan for Arctic oil drilling. That’s why we’re here, to let the public and Formula One fans know what this company is really up to.”
Shell has invested $5bn in its Arctic programme, but after a series of embarrassing mishaps — including a grounded rig and a fire on a drill ship — it was forced to abandon its plans to drill for oil off the coast of Alaska this summer. But the company has now signed a deal with Russian state-owned oil giant Gazprom to drill in the Russian Arctic, a region where regulation is lax and accidents are commonplace.
Over 3.5 million people have joined Greenpeace's Save the Arctic movement. One of them, who is on the roof of the grandstand, is Vanessa Hall from Manchester, UK, a former councillor on Manchester Council. She said:
“This sport is all about cutting edge developments in engineering and safety, but Shell’s Arctic drilling programme relies on technology and equipment that was developed before today’s drivers were even born. And of course the only reason Shell can drill there at all is because climate change is melting the Arctic ice cap, and they’re going in to drill for more of the stuff that caused the melt in the first place — it’s madness.”
Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo, who is following the race from Amsterdam, said:
“I was a fan of Grand Prix racing when I was growing up, but I am not a fan of what Shell is doing in the Arctic. Right now we are in the race of our lives against Shell, a company that sees the melting of the Arctic as a business opportunity, rather than a warning. Every driver and F1 fan knows that oil on the tracks spells disaster; an oil spill in the Arctic would be catastrophic. We hope that when they’ve heard about what Shell is up to they’ll join the almost four-million-strong movement to save the Arctic.”
To arrange interviews with campaigners at the race, please contact:
Jessica Wilson, Greenpeace Arctic communications manager +44 7896 893 118
Louise Hutchins, Greenpeace Arctic campaigner, +44 7971 807 687
Tom Lowe, Greenpeace video producer, +31 646 162 024
Alex Yallop, Greenpeace photo editor, +31 624 941 965
Broadcast quality video and HD photos will be available shortly at photo.greenpeace.org
Direct link: http://photo.greenpeace.org/C.aspx?VP3=ViewBox_VPage&ALID=27MZIFVX47UW&CT=Album
A behind-the-scenes parody of the action can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_SKRYrUVeA