Shell accused of “greenwashing its harmful activities” following its partnership with British Cycling



British Cycling is facing criticism from environmental campaign groups after signing a long-term partnership deal with Shell.

The partnership, which was announced on Monday and will run until the end of 2030, will help “accelerate British Cycling’s trajectory to net zero”, according to a press release from the governing body.

But environmental groups condemned the move as an attempt by Shell to “green its harmful business“.

“The idea that Shell is helping British Cycling get to net zero is as absurd as cattle farmers advising lettuce farmers on how to go vegan,” said Doug Parr, policy director for Greenpeace UK.

Shell has been accused of not preparing adequately for the global shift to a low-carbon economy, and last month a report by an energy and climate think tank found that the amount of Climate-positive messaging used by major oil and gas companies, including Shell, is inconsistent with their spending on low-carbon activities.

In response to the report, Shell said it plans to spend 12% of its capital expenditure on renewables this year, up from 10% in 2021.

“Cycling is the epitome of eco-friendly travel,” a statement from Friends of the Earth said.

“It is deeply disappointing that [British] Cycling might think it appropriate to partner with a fossil fuel giant. Shell continues to invest billions in oil and gas projects, while using cynical public relations initiatives like this partnership to try to whitewash its harmful activities.

“Tobacco companies are rightly banned from sports sponsorship because of the adverse health effects. The same should apply to the oil and gas companies that are devastating the health of our planet. We should have told Shell to get on his bike.

Amid widespread criticism at the announcement of the partnership on social media, former British cyclist Callum Skinner said he is “happy to no longer have to pedal their voicemail”.

British Cycling oversees all forms of cycling – from amateur to elite – in Britain.

As well as fostering success at Olympic events and major championships, it is also responsible for encouraging more people to take up the sport and has 166,000 members, according to the British Cycling website.

The organization says Shell will support the governing body’s transition to a fleet of electric vehicles and help make cycling more accessible.

“We look forward to working alongside Shell UK over the rest of this decade to expand access to the sport, support our elite runners and help our organization and our sport take important steps towards net zero – things which we know our members are incredibly passionate about,” said Brian Facer, CEO of British Cycling.

“As part of our new business programme, this partnership with Shell UK provides powerful support for cycling, will help us improve and inspire more people to consider cycling and cyclists.”

Shell says it is increasing the amount it spends on energy transition, which is expected to account for 50% of its total spending by 2025.


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