Environmental activist groups climbing a Shell oil tank in Rotterdam

Greenpeace demonstrates against Shell in Rotterdam port, calls for advertising ban

Image credit: Eva Plevier | Reuters

Greenpeace supporters and other activists have sought to block shipping traffic at a Shell refinery in Rotterdam port as part of a campaign against what the environmental pressure group calls 'greenwashing' - misleading advertising by oil industry companies seeking to promote themselves as pro-environment.

In the action in Rotterdam, the 33 metre-long Greenpeace vessel The Beluga anchored at the entrance of Shell’s section of the port, which houses the Pernis refinery, and activists scaled a large oil tank.

Shell spokesman Marc Potma said in reaction that the company supports groups' right to demonstrate "provided this is done in a safe manner," before adding, "However, that is not the case now. The protesters are illegally on our property [in Rotterdam] where strict safety regulations apply".

Rotterdam Port spokesman Tie Schellekens said there was "barely any" disruption to shipping traffic, but openings to some docks had been blocked, and that "Because of that, two barges are unable to load or unload".

Environmental activist groups blocking the Pernis Shell harbour, Rotterdam - inline

Image credit: Eva Plevier | Reuters

The Rotterdam action came as Greenpeace and more than 20 other environmental groups kicked off a campaign for a Europe-wide ban on adverts and sponsorships by oil and gas companies, comparing them to harmful tobacco promotions.

The groups said it would launch protests and collect a million signatures from EU citizens to put a law banning ads for fossil fuels before the EU Commission.

"The EU has already introduced a directive banning cross-border tobacco advertising and sponsorships," Greenpeace said in a statement issued in the run-up to the COP26 UN climate conference in Glasgow. "Now it’s time for a similar law against fossil fuel industries for the health of the planet and our future."

The Commission, the EU's executive body, is obliged to give serious consideration to petitions put forward under the 'European Citizens Initiative', a direct democracy plan enacted by the union in 2007.

More than 20 environmental groups are backing the Ban Fossil Fuel Ads campaign, including Global Witness, Friends of the Earth and Avaaz.

The draft law would ban advertisements for fossil fuels, for vehicles that use them and block oil companies from sponsorships.

In London at the weekend, leading climate scientist Professor Chris Rapley resigned from the Science Museum’s advisory board over fossil-fuel sponsorship.

Professor Rapley, who was director of the the Science Museum from 2007 to 2010, said it is “a pity” he has to resign, but disagrees with the “ongoing willingness to accept oil and gas company sponsorship”.

The Science Museum reopened to the public in May this year with a new exhibition – 'Our Future Planet' – which counts Shell as a major sponsor.

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