Hi. My name is Ian and I'm a campaigner with Greenpeace. I'm also a new dad and a big fan of LEGO. She's a little young now, but I know that in a few years my baby girl will be building her own dreams out of your colourful little bricks.

I am sure that you feel very privileged to work at LEGO. I feel the same about Greenpeace and in a way we are similar – trying to build a better world for the next generation and our children.

For me that's a world that has moved past fossil fuels and into a new era of clean energy. It means companies like LEGO pledging to go beyond oil (which, to your great credit, you have already promised to do). It means seeing the melting Arctic as a warning sign that we are pushing our planetary luck – and not as an opportunity to drill for more of the oil that caused the melting in the first place.

Looking at your company – and the programmes you have to reduce your environmental impact – I can't help imagining that most people at LEGO agree that drilling for more oil in the most extreme places like the Arctic is a bad idea. But for Shell, it's the core of their business plan.

I'm guessing that there are many people inside LEGO who recognise that the partnership with Shell should now come to an end, but they're finding it hard to speak up.

Here are a few points that might help those people make their case.

On July 1st, your CEO responded to our campaign by saying, "We expect that Shell lives up to their responsibilities wherever they operate and take appropriate action to any potential claims should this not be the case."

In the Arctic, Shell is absolutely not living up to its responsibilities. Last year the company was fined over $1m by the US government for clean air violations in Alaska, after belching noxious fumes from both of their drilling rigs and polluting the fragile Arctic environment.

In an even more serious incident, Shell's giant drilling platform Kulluk ran aground during a heavy storm, risking an oil spill off the beautiful Alaskan island of Kodiak. In its subsequent report, the US Coast Guard found that the oil company had moved the rig in a hurry in order to avoid paying a couple of million in state taxes.  

Don't take our word for it. The former US interior secretary Ken Salazar said that Shell 'screwed up' in Alaska. And the US Coast Guard issued a report into the grounding which lists a series of management errors and documents a reckless, risk taking culture at the oil giant.

Whichever way you look at it, Shell is not a responsible company. Its track record in the Arctic alone is appalling, and that's not to mention its regressive attitude to climate change, which basically assumes that there will be no concerted action to reduce emissions at all (here's an Economist piece from this week on that point). By the time your longer term sustainability goals are reached, Shell hopes to still be pumping oil, in open defiance of climate science and the millions of people who will suffer dearly from storms, rising seas and deadly hurricanes.

I'm sure that many people at LEGO are beginning to realise that Shell gets so much more from this partnership than you do. Your hard work in creating a company with respected values is being put at risk by the external partners your CEO is choosing to endorse.

We're happy to discuss this with LEGO at any time, but sadly Mr Knudstorp cancelled a meeting with us where we wanted to explain our position in more detail. We also tried to deliver a petition to your Copenhagen and London offices this week, but were told that no one was prepared to accept it.

In the meantime, please feel to leave a comment here – anonymously if you like – and let us know your thoughts on the deal with Shell. We'll try to respond to any points or questions you raise.

Yours faithfully,

Ian Duff

PS: In case you missed them, here are some quotes from what other people are saying about LEGO's deal with Shell.

"Why does a company who clearly take great care in reducing the environmental impact need to partner up with a global oil company? I don't think they do. Which is why I signed the petition, and I think you should too." – Dad's blogger Henry Elliss, at Fatherhood Squared

"Greenpeace is right - Shell branded LEGO is ill judged" – Wired  

"Greenpeace's argument is a powerful one: Lego has built its reputation on making the world a better place for children, and its partnership with Shell doesn't resonate with that." – Forbes

"Bravo, LEGO. Top notch corporate responsibility dodge there." – Salon

"Shell clearly benefits from its partnership. For Lego, the connection with Shell is a mixed bag." –TIME

And finally, one that is important for us: "Giving away Shell branded toys is one thing, but being best buddies with an organization the US government doesn't trust to drill for oil is something else entirely…" – MoviePilot


Ian Duff is an Arctic Campaigner at Greenpeace UK.