Activists call for EU ban on fossil fuel advertising

Rotterdam/Brussels, 4 October 2021 – More than 80 activists from 12 EU countries used fossil fuel ads from all over Europe to block the entrance to Shell’s refinery in the port of Rotterdam. The peaceful protest comes as over 20 organisations launched a European Citizens’ Initiative campaign today, calling for a new law that bans fossil fuel advertising and sponsorship in the European Union.

High-quality photo and video of the protest will be available here, free for media to use.

Lead organiser of the European Citizens’ Initiative, Greenpeace EU climate and energy campaigner Silvia Pastorelli, said: “We’re blocking Europe’s largest oil refinery with the very same ads that the fossil fuel industry use to deceive the public about their responsibility for climate breakdown. Fossil fuel companies, car companies and airlines have refused to change their polluting business, but use ads and sponsorships to present themselves as the solution to the climate crisis they caused. We’re asking the public to make their voices heard and demand an EU ban on fossil fuel ads.”

Greenpeace’s 33-metre-long sailing ship Beluga II dropped anchor at 9:00 am this morning at the entrance to Shell’s refinery. Activists in kayaks, canoes and inflatable boats formed a second blockade on the water. Another group built a barrier on the water with fossil fuel ads, collected by volunteers across Europe, attached to 22 huge floating cubes. Meanwhile, nine climbers scaled a 15-metre oil storage tank and attached ads next to Shell’s logo. [1]

The European Citizens’ Initiative that Greenpeace is urging people to sign – “Ban Fossil Fuel Advertising and Sponsorships” – proposes a ban on any advertisement or sponsorship in the European Union by companies selling fossil fuels, vehicles running on fossil fuels, and flights or ferries that run on fossil fuels. If the campaign gathers one million verified signatures in support of the proposal, the European Commission is obliged to respond. [2]

New research: 63% of fossil fuel companies ads are ‘greenwashing’

Analysis published today by Greenpeace Netherlands found that an average of 63% of fossil fuel companies’ advertisements were greenwashing: misleading consumers by failing to accurately reflect the companies’ business and promoting false solutions such as fossil gas as clean energy alternatives. 

The research, conducted by the journalists at DeSmog, assessed over 3,000 adverts published on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube since the launch of the European Green Deal, from December 2019 to April 2021. The six companies analysed were Shell, Total Energies, Preem, Eni, Repsol and Fortum. Only 16% of the advertisements analysed were explicitly for fossil fuel products, despite the fact that this is the majority business of all six companies.

High-quality photo and video of the protest will be available here, free for media to use.


Silvia Pastorelli, Greenpeace EU climate & energy campaigner: +32 496 12 20 94, [email protected] 

Greenpeace EU press desk: +32 (0)2 274 1911, [email protected]

Notes to editors:

[1] The activists are volunteers from France, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Croatia, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Hungary and the Netherlands

[2] For more information about the European Citizens’ Initiative, “Ban Fossil Fuel Advertising and Sponsorships”, visit A European Citizens’ Initiative is a petition that is officially recognised by the European Commission, and pre-approved by them. If a European Citizens’ Initiative reaches one million verified signatures in the time limit of one year, then the European Commission is legally obliged to respond, and may consider making our demands into European law. 

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