brands under fire

Shell and BP Targeted by UK Activists

Posted by Sheila Shayon on July 16, 2012 03:29 PM

The latest move in Greenpeace’s Save the Arctic campaign saw British eco-activists shutting down 74 of 119 Shell petrol stations in Edinburgh and London against the brand's plans to drill for oil in the Arctic, leading to the arrests of 24 campaigners on Monday, according to the Guardian.

The campaign is targeting Shell as prepares to begin drilling in the Arctic with Russian oil company Gazprom, a plan that U.S. activists rallied to sue and spoof campaigns to pop up. Protesters scaled the roofs of Shell stations and deployed emergency shut-off switches to stop petrol going to the pumps, removing a fuse that delays it being switched on again, while posting a message on Twitter that, "We're being careful not to destroy property. Even the carefully removed components will go back to Shell."

Greenpeace UK website elaborated, "It's part of the global week of action against Shell that kicked off with the occupation of the head office in the Hague – as well as our live TV channel, follow #tellshell on Twitter for all the latest from around the world."

The Save the Arctic campaign, launched by Virgin chairman Richard Branson, actress Lucy Lawless and Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo at the Rio+20 Earth summit, aims to prohibit oil drilling and industrial fishing in the Arctic by declaring the region a world park. Other celebs — including Robert Redford, Sir Paul McCartney, Penelope Cruz, Jude Law, Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, and Radiohead's Thom Yorke — have signed "the Arctic Scroll," an-anti oil drilling petition to be planted on the seabed at the North Pole.

"The Arctic is coming under assault and needs people from around the world to stand up and demand action to protect it," said Naidoo to the Guardian. "A ban on offshore oil drilling and unsustainable fishing would be a huge victory against the forces ranged against this precious region and the 4 million people who live there. And a sanctuary in the uninhabited area around the pole would in a stroke stop the polluters colonising the top of the world without infringing on the rights of indigenous communities."  

"Shell is preparing, for the first time, to unleash a drilling fleet of huge vessels upon the fragile and beautiful Arctic, home of the polar bears,” commented Sara Ayech, a protester at the Battersea Park station, to the Guardian. "It's time to draw a line in the ice and tell Shell to stop. That's why today we're going to shut down all of Shell's petrol stations in the capital cities of London and Edinburgh. We've got dozens of people who will hit over 100 Shell garages throughout the day." 

A Shell spokesman responded to the newspaper that while the company is "betting billions" on Alaska, it also "recognises that certain organisations are opposed to our exploration programme Offshore Alaska, and we respect the right of individuals and organisations to engage in a free and frank exchange of views about our operations. Shell has met with numerous organisations and individuals who oppose drilling offshore Alaska. We respect their views and value the dialogue. We have extended this same offer for productive dialogue to Greenpeace."

Protests are planned across Europe, including Denmark and Germany and on Twitter, @greenpeace_ch where a protester dressed as a polar bear picketing the home of Shell CEO Peter Voser was posted.

It's not the only oil and gas brand on the hotseat — rival BP, the London Olympics' official "fuel and gas provider" and "sustainability partner,” is also under siege as environmental groups protest their sponsorship with acts of "brand piracy." On July 5th, activists splashed a six-panel outdoor billboard touting BP's sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympics by defacing them with with oil-black paint. BuzzFeed posted photos showing the six-panel billboard, located along London's Cromwell Road.

Taking responsibility, f-ingthefuture.org commented: "Organisers of the Olympics have decided to allow BP, one of the dirtiest companies on earth, the opportunity to rebrand itself as socially responsible and take an active role in proposing how society should approach climate change. By sponsoring activities like the Cultural Olympiad, the London 2012 Festival, the World Shakespeare Festival and the Games themselves, BP is able to continue its catastrophic, though increasingly profitable, operations. That’s why we had to act."

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