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Image credit: © Bart Hoogveld / Greenpeace

Fossil Fuels

Greenpeace Protesters Blockade Shell Refinery In Rotterdam

Greenpeace protesters blocked part of the port of Rotterdam on Monday.

A squadron of Greenpeace activists constructed a blockade around Shell’s Pernis refinery in Rotterdam — the largest in Europe — on October 4th to call attention to the company’s advertising campaign, which the group calls “greenwashing.” In conjunction with 20 environmental justice organizations, Greenpeace is spearheading a campaign to get the EU to ban fossil fuel advertising, which it says encourages an increase in emissions, promotes pollution that kills people, and touts false solutions to the environmental crisis created by burning fossil fuels, according to Reuters.

In a statement, the groups said, “The EU has already introduced a directive banning cross-border tobacco advertising and sponsorships. Now it’s time for a similar law against fossil fuel industries for the health of the planet and our future.”  Greenpeace and its supporters are attempting to get 1 million signatures on a petition asking the EU to enact such a law.

At 9:00 AM, the protesters anchored the 33-meter long vessel Beluga II in front of the entrance to Tweede Petroleumhaven, where Shell’s refinery is located. It was joined by a flotilla of activists in kayaks, canoes, and inflatable boats that formed a second blockade on the water. Still more protesters built a barrier on the water with fossil fuel ads collected by volunteers from all across Europe. They attached the ads to 22 large floating cubes while nine intrepid climbers scaled a 15-meter high oil storage tank and attached ads next to Shell’s logo.

Image credit: Greenpeace

In a statement published on the Greenpeace website, 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.”

Today, Greenpeace published the results of a study conducted by the journalists at DeSmog which assessed over 3,000 advertisements published on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube  by Shell, Total Energies, Preem, Eni, Repsol, and Fortum since the European Green Deal started in December of 2019, to April of 2021.

The study claims that 63% of those ads amounted to greenwashing that mislead consumers by failing to accurately reflect the companies’ actual business and promoting false solutions such as fossil gas as a clean energy alternative.

Image credit: Martine Kamara/Greenpeace

The companies hotly deny the greenwashing claim. Shell, TotalEnergies, and Eni said they felt justified in profiling their green credentials, given their plans to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Repsol and Fortum did not immediately respond. Shell spokesman Marc Potma said his  company opposes Greenpeace’s view but supports the group’s right to protest — just not in this case because of the safety risks associated with the way the protest was carried out. Potma apparently does not see the absurdity of worrying about the safety of protesters while the emissions from Shell’s products continue to cause death and disease for millions of people every day.

“It’s nice that Shell has a couple of green projects. However, it’s 2021 and they are still investing five times more in oil and gas,” said Greenpeace spokesperson Faiza Oulahsen.  “These companies should not be on our televisions or streets, they belong in court.” In May a Dutch court ordered Shell to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030, a decision the company is appealing.

After a few hours, the protest was broken up local police, who arrested 21 activists. Maybe someday the cops will march into the boardrooms of these companies and cart their leaders off to jail on the grounds that their business activities constitute a crime against humanity. That’s something many in the CleanTechnica community would dearly love to see.

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Written By

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. 3000 years ago, Socrates said, "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." Perhaps it's time we listened?


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