Rotterdam, Netherlands – More than 80 Greenpeace Netherlands activists from 12 EU countries are using fossil fuel ads from all over Europe to block the entrance to Shell’s oil refinery. The peaceful protest comes as over 20 organisations launched a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) petition today, calling for a new law that bans fossil fuel advertising and sponsorship in the European Union.
“We’re here today to lift the veil on the fossil fuel industry, and confront them with their own propaganda. Our blockade is made out of the very adverts that fossil fuel companies use to clean their image, to deceive citizens and delay climate action. The pictures in those ads look nothing like the reality that we’re surrounded by, here at Shell’s refinery. With this European Citizens’ Initiative we can shape the law and take the microphone away from some of the world’s most polluting companies,” said Silvia Pastorelli, EU climate and energy campaigner and lead organiser of the ECI.
If an ECI reaches one million verified signatures in a year, then the European Commission is legally obliged to respond, and consider implementing the demands into European law.
The 33 metre-long Greenpeace sailing vessel The Beluga anchored at 9 am this morning at the entrance of Shell’s port. The activists, volunteers from France, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Greece, Croatia, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia,Hungary and Netherlands are using fossil fuel adverts to block the oil port. Nine climbers have scaled a 15 metre oil tank and attached the ads collected by volunteers across Europe next to Shell’s logo. Another group has built a barrier with adverts attached to four floating cubes. In kayaks and inflatables, a third group have hoisted signs and banners inviting people to join the “Fossil Free Revolution” and demand to “Ban fossil fuel ads”.
Chaja Merk, activist on board Greenpeace ship said, “I grew up reading signs about how cigarettes kill you, but never saw similar warnings in petrol stations or fuel tanks. It’s frightening that my favourite sports and museums are sponsored by airlines and car companies. Fossil fuel adverts belong in a museum – not sponsoring them. I am here to say this needs to stop. We are the generation that will put an end to the fossil fuel industry.”
An investigation by DeSmog, Words vs. Actions: The truth behind fossil fuel advertising, released today commissioned by Greenpeace Netherlands found that almost two thirds of the six companies’ advertisements assessed were greenwashes — misleading consumers by failing to accurately reflect the companies’ business as well as promoting false solutions. DeSmog researchers reviewed more than 3000 ads by six energy companies Shell, Total Energies, Preem, Eni, Repsol and Fortum on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. For the three worst offenders — Shell, Preem and Fortum — 81% of each company’s adverts are classified as greenwashing. The average across all six energy giants is 63%.
Greenpeace Netherlands’ Head of Climate & Energy campaign Faiza Oulahsen said, “Shell seems to have lost touch with reality by promoting delusional advertising to convince us that they are leading the energy revolution. With less than a month before the UN climate summit we expect to see more of this slick PR strategy from the fossil fuel industry and we need to be ready to call it out. This dangerous propaganda has enabled the most polluting companies to stay afloat, now it’s time to take this life jacket away from them.”
Greenpeace Netherlands’ report shows that Shell runs one of the most misleading campaigns, with 81% greenwashing adverts and promotions in comparison to their 80% investment in oil and gas in the coming years. In 2021, Shell stated that it is investing five times more in oil and gas than in renewables.
Jennifer Morgan, who is the Executive director of Greenpeace International in her day job, signed up as a volunteer kayaktivist with Greenpeace Netherlands for the nonviolent direct action. Ms Morgan said:
“Under a month to go until COP26 and Europe is buzzing with how to increase fossil gas production that would lock us into more emissions, when we need to break this dependence. The energy crisis hitting Europe has been orchestrated by the fossil gas and oil lobby, at the expense of consumers and the planet. Climate distraction and delay tactics are keeping Europe hooked on fossil fuels, preventing the urgently needed green and just transition. It’s time to say no more propaganda, no more pollution, no more profit before people and the planet.”
The organisations which support this European Citizens’ Initiative are: ActionAid, Adfree Cities, Air Clim, Avaaz, Badvertising, BoMiasto.pl, Ecologistas en Acción, ClientEarth, Europe Beyond Coal, FOCSIV , Food and Water Action Europe, Friends of the Earth Europe, Fundación Renovables, Global Witness, Greenpeace, New Weather Institute Sweden, Plataforma por un Nuevo Modelo Energético, Résistance à l’Agression Publicitaire, Reclame, Fossielvrij, ReCommon, Stop Funding Heat, Social Tipping Point Coalitie, Zero (Associação Sistema Terrestre Sustentável).
Photo and video will be available HERE in the Greenpeace Media Library.
Sol Gosetti, Media Coordinator Fossil Free Revolution, Greenpeace Netherlands: [email protected], +54 (11) 28313271 WhatsApp +44 (0) 7380845754
Greenpeace International Press Desk: [email protected], +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)
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 For more information about the European Citizens’ Initiative, Ban Fossil Fuel Advertising and Sponsorships: www.banfossilfuelads.org. A European Citizens’ Initiative (or ECI) is a petition that is officially recognised by the European Commission. If an ECI reaches one million verified signatures in the timeframe allowed, then the European Commission is legally obliged to respond, and may consider making our demands into European law.
 Words vs. Actions full report HERE. The investigation assessed over 3000 adverts published on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube since the launch of the European Green Deal in December 2019 until April 2021. The six companies analysed are Shell, Total Energies, Preem, Eni, Repsol and Fortum.