Greenpeace target Shell with Belgian GP protest

2013 Belgian Grand Prix

Greenpeace disrupted activities at the Belgian Grand Prix as they sought to draw attention to race sponsor Shell’s drilling practices.

Protesters unrolled a large banner in the main grandstand opposite the pits in the build-up to the race. Others were deployed by remote control during the podium ceremony, as shown in the video above.

According to the environmental organisation, two members of their 35-strong team were arrested after “subverting” a Shell advertising board at the Radillon corner. Other banners were displayed by paragliders before the start of the race.

Julia Ritschard of Swiss group said: “Shell has spent millions on this event, hoping to ride on the glory of the drivers and pretend it’s a company worthy of a spot on the podium.”

“But Shell has proven time and again that it will cut the most dangerous corners in the race to drill for oil as the Arctic ice melts away. So I’m here to let Formula One fans know what this company is really up to and make sure the truth of what Shell is doing in the Arctic is part of today’s race.”

2013 Belgian Grand Prix

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Image © Greenpeace

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163 comments on Greenpeace target Shell with Belgian GP protest

  1. MDian said on 25th August 2013, 22:35

    All for those wishing to make the world a better place, but protesting against a fuel company??? Wonder what their microlites and planes run on, air?!?!

  2. Paul A (@paul-a) said on 25th August 2013, 23:09

    Was this the cause of the booing during the awards ceremony? (Canadian TV coverage did not mention what it was all about.)

  3. Jonathan said on 25th August 2013, 23:37

    It’s interesting that there’s not much mention of this elsewhere on the web!

  4. James (@goodyear92) said on 26th August 2013, 0:02

    I suppose it’s brought a certain amount of awareness to people who otherwise didn’t know about this, but ultimately I see it as a bit of a wasted effort. At the end of the video it says ‘embarrassing Shell: priceless’, but to me the only person they looked to have embarrassed is the poor sod on the podium that had to take the banners down. I won’t ridicule their cause, because it’s a good one, but there are better ways to go about protesting Shell’s practices than pettily hi-jacking a Grand Prix podium ceremony with two small, remote control banners that were visible for all of about 30 seconds (and it failed anyway, because FOM ensured their message wasn’t seen on the broadcast).

  5. Richard said on 26th August 2013, 0:29

    I think FOM handled it very well by not showing this during the podium. Some people might say that security dropped the ball on the one but there job is to keep drivers safe so they are alrite in my books.

  6. Eric (@) said on 26th August 2013, 1:08

    Remote-controlled banners were used to display a message of protest on a large banner in the main grandstand opposite the pits in the build-up to the race

    Unbelievable. I was there. I sat in the Gold 1 Grand Stand.
    When posting an article at least get your facts straight…

  7. Elreno (@elreno) said on 26th August 2013, 1:15

    I love F1 but I couldn’t care less if the cars run on petrol or liquified banana skins. So good on Greenpeace for highlighting bad environmental practices and poor corporate citizenship whomever the company may be. It is realised now that a hundred years or so of fossil fuel use is causing problems for human kind and the other species that share the planet. Those of us who support motor racing ought not to get on our high horses when protests like this happen. It’s a wonder there hasn’t been more. But I always say to those who say motor racing “wastes” fuel to look at all other recreational activity as well. I think if you take into account the fuel used in all other sports by spectators travelling to events, or tourists jetting around sight-seeing then 22 F1 cars is of no significance. We have the same rights as them to enjoy our chosen sport. The point is not to stop us humans having fun but to do it in a better and more sustainable way.

  8. BJ (@beejis60) said on 26th August 2013, 4:17

    “Shell has proven time and again that it will cut the most dangerous corners in the race to drill for oil as the Arctic ice melts away.”

    I’m interested in what dangerous corners are they cutting? What’s their proof? It’s easy to make up stories and try to convey a message… I know I’m not up to date on the latest world news or anything, but I feel like there really isn’t a need to be flashy in them making up stories. Drilling for oil is a dangerous job but in my two minutes researching how Shell is allegedly cutting corners, I found zero accusations outside of stories similar to this.

  9. choltz (@choltz) said on 26th August 2013, 4:23

    I wish the people in Greenpeace would come up with solutions to problems rather than point the obvious ones out to us. They point out nothing new, we know oil is bad, anywhere you drill will mess up the environment, but some of us also know we need it unless someones comes up with a better idea.

    They only focused on F1 because of the amount of people watching, Greenpeace’s marketing department is just looking for eyeballs.

    • Mike (@mike) said on 26th August 2013, 4:51

      I’m quite sure if you asked them they’d have many “solutions”. Although notably in this case the first would likely be,

      Step 1: Don’t drill in arctic.

      They focused on this race because of how important it is to Shell. Shell’s marketing department is also looking for eyeballs. Also, note that they are not saying “don’t use oil”, they are criticizing specifically the drilling for oil in the arctic.

  10. Fisha695 (@fisha695) said on 26th August 2013, 6:48

    Am I the only one that doesn’t care that the icecaps are melting? It’s part of the earths natural cycle, they melt for a few thousand years and then it’s hot for a few thousand years and then they freeze for a few thousand years and then it’s cold for a few thousand years and then the process repeats itself.

  11. Girts (@girts) said on 26th August 2013, 8:24

    Well, F1 is all about commitment and Greenpeace’s actions certainly required a lot of dedication and effort. Given that and also the fact that they didn’t interrupt the race itself or protest against F1 as a sport, I must admit I have a certain respect for them and say “well done” even if they kind of interrupted our church service.

    I guess this is a significant reminder that those who ensure that F1 world keeps turning, including the sponsors and the suppliers, are not always nice people. As long as the engines keep roaring, we might forget about it but we shouldn’t be surprised that there are other people, who care about human rights or the future of our planet.

  12. marcus (@wombat1m) said on 26th August 2013, 11:18

    As well as being an F1 fan I have the misfortune/fortune to report on the shipping and offshore industries for a living as a trade journalist. I also had the fortune/misfortune to witness Andy Brown the head of Shell’s upstream division (the bit that does stuff like drilling for oil) fail completely to answer any questions whatsoever on their rig accident in the Arctic while being grilled in public in early June, in front of 500 plus, largely partisan to Shell’s cause, of a top level shipping/offshore industry audience at major event in Norway, called Norshipping. The moderator doing the grilling was a CNN presenter so no slouch shall we say.
    Shell’s response was pretty incriminating in its own way, they’re only concerned with getting the **** sued off them, so they say nothing substantive at all. But they’re not the only ones doing it – Statoil, Norway’s national company is really big on the idea oddly enough(!) and probably has far more experience than anyone else, but they are a wee bit less sexy to the environmentalists than Shell, and to be fair say even less than Shell beyond the absolute necessary if that is actually humanly possible….
    People are experimenting with shipping oil etc via a polar route from Asia to Europe – Russia has issued 300 plus licenses this year – compared to less than 40 in 2012.
    I don’t agree with what Greenpeace did yesterday, frankly its just stupid and annoying, and apart from creating a bad day for a few PR depts achieved remarkably little I’d imagine although I’m sure they all feel like heroes. Maybe they should try the same stunt in Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Malaysia or Bahrain now that would require real balls.

  13. matt90 (@matt90) said on 26th August 2013, 12:37

    I have got to admire the ingenuity Greenpeace used there.

  14. Jonathan189 (@jonathan189) said on 26th August 2013, 19:47

    Great post Keith!

    It’s regrettable that both Sky and the BBC ignored a peaceful protest which deserved to be a talking point. I strongly believe F1 should be leading the way with green technology, sustainable use of resources and support for human rights. There’s nothing in the rules that says the sport has to bow down before amoral multinationals and brutal regimes. It doesn’t have to provide a criticism-free advertising platform to companies like Shell and governments like that of Bahrain. Only the apparently limitless greed of FOM has led us to the current unfortunate situation.

  15. xbx-117 (@xbx-117) said on 26th August 2013, 21:33

    Haha, I love how nonchalantly the guy just bent the banners down and dealt with the problem. Props to professional and level-headed security.

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