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    British Cycling faces Shell sponsorship backlash

    Prominent figures in cycling and environmental activism have expressed anger after British Cycling signed a partnership with Shell due to the oil and gas company’s lack of commitments on net zero. 

    The main national governing body for the sport says the partnership will see a shared commitment to support cyclists and para-cyclists, drive innovation and most notably “accelerate British Cycling’s path to net zero.” But many, including Clean Creatives’ director Duncan Meisel, have pointed out that Shell itself has never announced any net zero targets, and dedicates 70% of its marketing on green claims against only 10% of its capital expenditure. Meanwhile, climate organization Greenpeace called the move “blatant greenwash.”

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    According to British Cycling, the partnership fits with its wider ambition to work with a broader range of commercial partners to support the delivery of the organization’s strategy, ‘Lead Our Sport, Inspire Our Communities’, with chief executive officer Brian Facer saying: “We’re looking forward to working alongside Shell UK over the rest of this decade to widen access to the sport, support our elite riders and help our organization and sport take important steps towards net zero – things we know our members are incredibly passionate about.”

    David Bunch, Shell UK country chair, said: “We’re very proud to become an official partner to British Cycling. The partnership reflects the shared ambitions of Shell UK and British Cycling to get to net zero in the UK, as well as encouraging low and zero-carbon forms of transport such as cycling and electric vehicles.”

    The decision has also already garnered further high-profile backlash, with Helen Ward, professor of public health at London’s Imperial College, stating that she has resigned from British Cycling with immediate effect. She tweeted: “I see it as a group campaigning for sustainable transport, and that does not fit well with oil money.”

    Greenpeace UK policy director Dr Doug Parr added: “The idea of Shell helping British Cycling reach net zero is as absurd as beef farmers advising lettuce farmers on how to go vegan. 

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    “After being booted out of museums and other cultural institutions, Big Oil is looking at sports as the next frontier for its brazen greenwash. But its aim hasn’t changed – to distract from the inconvenient fact that the fossil fuel industry is making our planet uninhabitable.”

    Parr’s comments refer to the announcement from cultural institutes, including the National Portrait Gallery and Scottish Ballet, that they will be ending sponsorship deals with BP ahead of schedule. 

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