High-profile Fremantle Dockers fans, including Tim Winton and former Western Australian Premier Carmen Lawrence, have called on the club to end its partnership with Woodside Energy.
In a letter to club chairman Dale Alcock and other board members, the group wrote that “it is no longer appropriate to have a fossil fuel company as the main sponsor to go forward “.
It comes a day later reports that Australian Test cricket captain Pat Cummins has raised objections with Cricket Australia over the team’s partnership with energy company Alinta.
In addition to Winton and Lawrence, a former number one ticket holder, the group of concerned fans includes former player and lifetime member Dale Kickett, and his wife, Kathy, inaugural club member and former football manager, Gerard McNeill .
Alex Hillman, Woodside’s former climate crisis adviser and strategist, and climate scientist Bill Hare also signed the letter, which says Woodside has “doubled” its fossil fuel production despite the company’s claims that it would decarbonize.
The letter referred to Scarborough, the offshore gas project planned by Woodside, which was the largest fossil fuel project approved in Australia for a decade.
Global research firm Climate Analytics had estimated the development would produce 1.37 billion tonnes of CO2 – nearly three times Australia’s annual carbon pollution – at a time when the International Energy Agency ( IEA) warned that no new fossil fuel projects could be built if the world were to limit global warming to 1.5C.
“Climate change is already creating catastrophic and deadly conditions for communities here and abroad, as well as massive damage to the natural systems that support our economy and well-being,” the letter read.
The group said responsible institutions had an obligation to signal that countries must accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy and halt all new fossil fuel projects.
“We should not allow our club’s good reputation to be used by any company to enhance its reputation when its core business so clearly threatens our planet,” they said.
“As members and supporters, we are speaking out because we believe it is not right for these young men and women to run away with the logo of a fossil fuel company plastered on their sweaters,” the statement said. letter.
Lawrence said there had been earlier discussions between band members and the Fremantle board over the club’s deal with Woodside, which had been in place since 2010.
But with the end of the season, she said now was the time to say something publicly.
She thought the club would be ‘open to the prospect’ of reconsidering the Woodside partnership, noting the work that had already been done to produce a action plan for sustainable development.
She said many sports and arts organizations found their sponsorship deals were out of step with community sentiment.
Diamond Players opposed a sponsorship deal with Hancock Prospecting because of the resource company’s record on Indigenous and environmental issues.
A Perth festival faced calls last year to drop sponsorship of Woodside and WA’s parents have also said the company has been granted naming rights to a Nippers surf rescue scheme.
David Pocock, now a federal senator for the ACT, raised concerns about Santos’ sponsorship of the Wallabies last year.
“For a long time, especially with the gas industry, it was thought to be somehow less problematic than other fossil fuels,” Lawrence said.
“But I think there’s been quite a rapid change in community sentiment and understanding that this isn’t some kind of middle ground, the IEA says we can’t build new fossil fuel projects.”
Winton said fossil fuels, like tobacco and alcohol, “represent old times and old habits that our sport and our team are trying to leave behind.”
Fremantle chairman Dale Alcock said Woodside had been an important supporter of the club since 2010.
“We understand and recognize that climate change and sustainability are key social issues for our members, supporters, players, staff and the wider community,” he said.
“With a fan base of over 800,000, we respect and appreciate that there are many issues that our fans have strong opinions about.
“As always, we will ensure that these different views and perspectives continue to be heard and considered by our board and management.”
A Woodside spokesperson said the company was “proud to be part of the diverse communities in which we work.”
“Our sponsorship of Dockers has extended beyond on-the-ground sponsorship into areas where both organizations share values and commitments to make a positive contribution, including through Woodside’s role as an Indigenous program partner” , they said.
“We recognize the importance of our role in producing mutual and lasting social outcomes in the communities of which we are a part.”
They said the company’s climate strategy was to “reducing our net greenhouse gas emissions, while investing in the products and services our customers need to reduce their emissions” and the company’s climate strategy, including targets for reducing its direct and reduction in methane emissions.
A comment has been requested from Fremantle.
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