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Stop greenwashing!

More than 20 organizations have launched a petition under the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) to call for a law banning fossil fuel advertising and sponsorship in the European Union.

Image: PixabayImage: Pixabay

To launch the initiative, more than 80 Greenpeace activists blocked the entrance to the Shell oil refinery in the port of Rotterdam this week using fossil fuel advertising banners.

“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

Climate change organizations are calling on the EU to introduce a ban on advertising and sponsorship by fossil fuel companies, similar to the ban on tobacco advertising that has been in place for several years. If an ECI petition reaches one million verified signatures within a year, the European Commission is legally obliged to respond and consider transposing the demands into European law.

Chaja Merk, activist on board of the 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.” 

A recent study by DeSmog, Words vs. Actions, reveals that nearly two-thirds of the ads from the six companies studied are greenwashes. This means that consumers are deceived by a 'green coat' and are supposed to assume that sustainability and climate protection are issues for the company. The ads do not accurately reflect the exact business activities of the companies and propagate false solutions.

There is another way: The Danish energy company Ørsted is one of the most sustainable companies in the world today (Image: Ørsted)

For this purpose, the researchers from DeSmog examined more than 3,000 ads from 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 ads are classified as greenwashing, Greenpeace announced.

For Shell in particular, 80% of its investments still go to fossil fuels, although the company has also been trying to gain a foothold in offshore wind for several years. However, the phase-out of fossil fuels has not happened here. Yet there are examples of other companies that took precisely this path years ago: For example, offshore world market leader Ørsted used to go by the name of DONG - Danish Oil and Gas - but has consistently divested itself of these business areas and is now one of the most sustainable companies in the world.

Katrin Radtke
Greenpeace, activists, EU, funding, investment, sponsoring, Shell, Ørsted, offshore, wind, market, divestment, law, petition, ECI

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