Greenpeace Campaign Helped End Shell’s Arctic Drilling Program
Though Shell blamed poor test results and tough regulations for its decision to abandon its spectacularly expensive Arctic drilling program in the Chukchi Sea, off the Alaska coast, The Guardian is reporting that an aggressive, multi-year campaign by Greenpeace had a major impact.
“The scrutiny of the Greenpeace campaign absolutely led to huge regulatory changes,” said Tensie Whelan, director of New York University’s Center for Sustainable Business.
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“Greenpeace started protesting the Chukchi Sea project in 2012, when activists occupied a Shell-contracted drillship headed for the Arctic,” the paper recalls. “A couple of years later, climbers rappelled off a bridge in Portland, Oregon, to block an icebreaker vessel from leaving the port. And, in September 2015, it staged a weeks-long protest outside Shell’s headquarters in London, erecting a giant animatronic polar bear and enlisting the support of British actress Emma Thompson. Later that month, Shell gave up on its Arctic dreams altogether.”
Moodie points to the Greenpeace campaign and the Shell decision as part of a larger trend, noting that Shell emerged as the world’s most-criticized company for the fourth year in a row in a survey of more than 7,500 campaigns by non-government organizations. “The drilling campaign was largely to blame,” she writes.
The survey by consultants at Sigwatch found that five of the 10 most-hated businesses were conventional energy companies, a trend that has been consistent since research began in 2010.
“The reason why oil companies aren’t praised is that they are beyond the pale,” said Sigwatch Managing Director and founder Robert Blood. “The NGOs’ view is that as long as oil and gas companies fail to acknowledge in their business models that carbon fuels are on the way out, and the only question is how long it will take, there is little point even talking to them, let alone praising them.”