Shell Oil and the Institutions Greenwashing Them Feel the ‘Heat’ on Climate Change, in Bristol

Bristol Shell exhibition opening protest 1
Bristol Shell exhibition opening protest 2
Bristol Shell exhibition opening protest 3
Saturday, December 15th 2007

Effective Direct Action and Public Protests Mark Exhibition’s Release in Bristol

It hasn’t been an easy week for the organisers of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award and the Bristol Museum, or their sponsor and proud wildlife destroyer— sugardaddy Shell Oil Company. All week, concerned individuals from around Bristol have been exposing the truth about Shell and the public institutions who are helping to greenwash them.

On Tuesday, activists staged a protest in the national offices of the BBC Wildlife Magazine in Broadmead, bringing work to a halt and reviving controversy within the organization about their relationship with the oil industry. See further details of this action in previous article

On Friday evening, Bristol Museum hosted a private, posh wine and cheese reception to kick off their hosting of Shell’s exhibit, with attendees including Dawn Primarola, Labour MP from South Bristol and Helen Holland, leader of the Bristol City Council, who were all patting themselves on the back for caring about wildlife. Bristol Rising Tide activists, dressed up to the nines, were admitted to the event under fake names, with one activist gaining access to the mic, and posing as the Shell public relations director. He then launched into a two minute speech (in the style of the yes men) thanking the city council and museum for helping to allow Shell’s destruction of wildlife to continue and calling the melting of the Arctic ice cap a “tremendous business opportunity” by allowing access to millions of barrels of oil under the ice cap. Amazingly the mic was kept on through the entirety of the speech. (Full text of speech and video below)

Saturday saw a highly successful and well-attended protest, marking the opening of the SHELL sponsored Wildlife photographer of the year exhibition. Dozens of humans, about a dozen polar bears, a snow leopard, and a tiger gathered, complete with the Wild Lie counter-exhibit. Protesters gathered in front of the museum, handed out leaflets, creating quite a spectacle. Some eventually made their way into the exhibition hall, where Shell’s crimes were recounted, and a die-in took place to symbolize all the wildlife who have been killed because of oil greed, and who continue to suffer the effects of climate change. The protest, organized by Bristol Rising Tide, Friends of the Earth, and People and Planet, showed that Bristolians will not be quiet in the face of corporate greenwash in our public institutions.

Protests are expected to continue at the museum through Jan. 13, in an effort to educate the public about the true nature of Shell’s activities, and to maintain pressure on the BBC Wildlife Magazine and Natural History Museum to drop Shell as a sponsor. People are encouraged to go and see the photographs and let the museum know about their displeasure about allowing a Shell sponsored exhibit space in a city-owned museum.

The protest today also coincided with a shocking report in this weekend's Financial Times. It highlights Shell's role in the imminent devastation of the athabasca tar sands.
See http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/53058af8-aaaf-11dc-a779-0000779fd2ac.html?ncli...

Brian Straub, Shell Canada's vice-president for oil sands makes the companies position very clear: "We're clearly putting all we have across the Shell world toward developing this resource. If we weren't here it would just be woods"

Take action:

If you want to protest about Bristol Museum and the BBC Wildlife Magazine greenwashing Shell then please write briefly to each of these organisations. There will be many within each organisation sympathetic to our stance - letters will support their position.

Bristol Council: customer.services@bristol.gov.uk

Bristol Museum: general.museum@bristol.gov.uk

BBC Wildlife Magazine: wildlifemagazine@bbcmagazinesbristol.com

Editor Evening Post: http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/displayNode.jsp?nodeId=144933&command=new...

Read more about Shell’s horrific environmental record and the controversy surrounding oil company sponsorship of cultural events:

"Shell Wildlife Destroyer of the Year", Friends of the Earth,
October 2006
http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefings/shell_wildlife_destroyer.pdf

Arctic Ice Free by 2013: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7139797.stm

Tragic History Museum: http://www.shelloiledwildlife.org.uk/

Art Not Oil: http://www.artnotoil.org.uk/gallery/v/shell

Full text of speech read by Derrick Leavussum, “public relations director for Shell”

Good evening my name is Derek Leavussum, public relations director for Shell. I want to welcome you all to the 2007 Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award. As you can imagine- I don’t have an easy job, what with all this fuss about melting glaciers, extreme weather and wildlife extinctions. I’d like to thank the Bristol City Council, BBC Wildlife Magazine and the Natural History Museum for making my job all that much easier by allowing us to sponsor your wild lie- I mean wildlife- exhibition.

We prefer not to see the melting of the Arctic ice cap as a threat to human civilization. We see it as a business opportunity. After all, there are millions of barrels of oil under there just waiting to be extracted. And we’ll need all the energy we can get since we’ve just abandoned our solar program. When you see the Shell logo, we don’t want you to think about the whale habitat we’re destroying in Siberia and Ireland, human rights violations in Nigeria, and especially not climate change. This may all be true but the fact is that the world needs oil and this is simply the price of progress.

Some say it’s ironic that the world’s second largest oil company is sponsoring a wildlife photography exhibition- but Shell is truly committed to preservation of the polar bear and other wildlife- in photographs if not in the real world. Some say it’s the end of the oil age- but we say it’s just the beginning- we’re thrilled about digging into Canada’s oil sands and with your help we can continue to deceive the public into thinking we’re a responsible corporate citizen. Thank you all for coming tonight and we hope you enjoy viewing these amazing photographs of wildlife that Shell is destroying- I mean conserving.

Also a special thanks to Dawn Primarola and the Labour party for supporting a third runway at Heathrow and ensuring that there remains a healthy demand for our products.

The revolution will not be motorised!

Video of Derrick Leavussome, Shell "public relations director" speaks to the posh reception at Bristol Museum.

http://risingtide.org.uk/bristol