In recent weeks a major Greenpeace campaign has captured headlines around the world. The campaign aims to prevent further damage to the Arctic which is facing catastrophe due to melting ice. This is being exacerbated by man-made climate change and a number of corporations are trying to turn a disaster for us all into profits for their shareholders.
One such company is Shell which intends to drill for oil in the region. Greenpeace held a major piece of direct action in which activists climbed London’s tallest building, the Shard, used by Shell.
At last month’s Belgian Grand Prix, one of the biggest days of the sporting calendar for Shell, Greenpeace managed to pull off a major coup. As a motor sport fan and an environmentalist I am determined that my sport takes responsibility for the affect it has on the planet. Other fans aren’t minded to support environmental campaigns. When it emerged shortly before the race that Greenpeace activists were on one of the grandstands the motor sport community on twitter were immediately angry. Some just didn’t like Greenpeace “hippies” whilst others were worried that they might have their Sunday afternoon disrupted. A valid point from others was that motorsport is dangerous enough as it is without having protesters making it worse. And this is where Greenpeace got it right. They weren’t just protesting about a sport that damages the environment; they made it specific to Shell and they did so without interrupting the racing.
Bernie Ecclestone’s company controls the race TV coverage so it was natural to see the protest edited out of the live broadcast but thankfully the fans at the track will have seen the points made and this video shows what happened.
I think motorsport fans will come round to our way of thinking. It will take time but motor sport itself will need to address issues of the environment if it wants to retain credibility.
- F1: Greenpeace’s unlikely friend (allthingsf1.wordpress.com)
- Go well, go Shell… (joesaward.wordpress.com) – here’s the counter argument by long-standing F1 journalist Joe Saward. It’s not up to much and makes the point that fans at the track were not best pleased. History will no doubt find it strange that the crowd booed a group of people trying to save the planet as if sport is more important. F1 will have to grow up and its fans will too.