‘Greenwashing, pure and simple’ – fury as Shell UK sponsors British Cycling

British Cycling was today accused on social media of facilitating ‘greenwashing’ with hundreds of comments from members criticizing its announcement of British subsidiary of multinational oil and gas giant Shell as a new sponsor as part of an eight-year deal that the national governing body claims. will help accelerate its “path to net zero”.

It also says the partnership, which starts this month and will run until the end of 2030 “will see a joint commitment to supporting UK cyclists and para-cyclists through the sharing of world-class innovation and expertise”, as well as “helping more – and wider groups – of people to ride, including ways to make cycling more accessible to people with disabilities”, the latter through a new program called “Limitless”.

Shell UK, which operates the country’s largest public network of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, says it will also support British Cycling’s aim to move to an all-EV fleet.

Globally, last month the company – which changed its name from Royal Dutch Shell – said it planned to move into e-bikes and e-scooters, explaining that “our customers want our brand to move to micromobility even if we don’t”. I don’t have any market share yet.

But as road.cc’s sister website eBikeTips pointed out, a recent report claimed that Shell, which insists it is committed to net zero by 2050, told employees in a 2020 internal communication to never “involve, suggest or leave open to possible misinterpretation that (net zero) is a Shell objective or target.”

> Oil giant Shell will make e-bikes as well as e-scooters – or at least their name will be on it

Speaking of the new partnership, British Cycling CEO Brian Facer said: “We look forward to working alongside Shell UK over the rest of this decade to broaden access to the sport, support our elite riders and helping our organization and our sport take important steps towards net zero – things we know our members are incredibly passionate about.

“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.”

David Bunch, National Chairman of Shell UK, added: “We are very proud to become an official partner of British Cycling. The partnership reflects the shared ambitions of Shell UK and British Cycling to achieve net zero in the UK and to encourage low and zero carbon modes of transport such as cycling and electric vehicles.

“Working together, we can bring real change to people across the country, from different walks of life, and also apply Shell’s cutting-edge lubricant technology to support the Great Britain cycling team in their quest for gold. at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris in 2024. .

Like many other major energy companies, Shell has diversified its portfolio to include renewables, while working to improve the UK’s energy security, and it also says it is committed to helping the country reach net zero.

But like most of its competitors, Shell plc posted record profits since Russia invaded Ukraine in February – the $11.5bn (£9.4bn) figure it announced for the second quarter of 2022 is more than double the 5.5bn dollars (£4.5bn) it made in the comparable period last year.

What it calls “renewable energy and energy solutions” accounted for just 6.3% of its earnings for the quarter, with oil and gas accounting for the vast majority of its earnings, making the company, like its rivals, is accused of seeking to cash in on the cost of living crisis as consumers face huge increases in their fuel bills.

Speaking in London last week at the Energy Intelligence Forum, the group’s chief executive said vulnerable consumers in Europe needed to be protected from rising prices, but added that he believed the answer lay in taxing the profits of energy companies rather than price caps.

Referring to the current volatility in oil and gas prices, he said, “You can’t have a market that behaves in such a way…that’s going to harm a significant part of society.

“One way or another, there must be government intervention that will somehow result in the protection of the poorest.”

He added: ‘That then can probably mean that governments have to tax people in this room to pay.’

Following the announcement of the partnership at midday today, a number of Twitter users expressed shock at the news, including the reference to net zero, like this tweet.

Some said it would cause them to cancel their British Cycling membership, with others adding it already justified them for doing so.

A member of British Cycling, a trained leader for the organization’s Breeze women-only rides, said the energy company “represents everything that we everyday cyclists don’t do”, while another who has been with the organization for more than a quarter of a century said the sponsorship was “green washing for them [Shell UK]plain and simple.

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