Following an extensive multimedia Greenpeace campaign, LEGO published a statement this morning committing to "not renew the co-promotion contract with Shell." The decision comes a month after Shell submitted plans showing it’s once again gearing up to drill in the melting Arctic next year.
During Greenpeace’s three-month campaign, which included tiny protest scenes at LEGOland and an emotional video, more than a million people signed a petition calling on LEGO to stop promoting Shell’s brand because of its plans to drill for oil in the pristine Arctic. In stark contrast to Shell, LEGO’s policies include a commitment to become net positive through the use of renewable energy, find a non-oil-based plastic alternative for its products and, in cooperation with its partners, leave a better world for future generations.
In his statement, LEGO president and CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp made it clear he did not appreciate his company’s brand being used to target Shell. However, Greenpeace insists that while LEGO is doing the right thing under public pressure, it should choose its partners more carefully when it comes to the threats facing our children from climate change. Due to contractual obligations, LEGO’s current co-promotion with Shell will still be honored.
Ian Duff, Arctic campaigner at Greenpeace, said: “This is a major blow to Shell. It desperately needs partners like LEGO to help give it respectability and repair the major brand damage it suffered after its last Arctic misadventure. Lego’s withdrawal from a 50-year relationship with Shell clearly shows that strategy will not work. The message should be clear: Your outdated, climate-wrecking practices are no longer socially acceptable, and you need to keep away from the Arctic or face being ostracized by society.”
LEGO is the latest in a line of leading global companies to walk away from a relationship with the fossil fuel industry. In late 2012 Waitrose announced it has put its partnership with Shell on ice and in the last month Microsoft, Google and Facebook all made commitments to end their support for ALEC, a controversial lobby group that campaigns against climate change legislation. And only weeks ago, the Rockefeller Foundation announced it will begin pulling its investments in the fossil fuel industry.
Shell’s past attempts to drill in the Arctic have been plagued with multiple operational failings culminating in the running aground of its drilling rig, the Kulluk. The extreme Arctic conditions, including giant floating icebergs and stormy seas, make offshore drilling extremely risky. And scientists say that in the Arctic, an oil spill would be impossible to clean up, meaning devastation for the Arctic’s unique wildlife.
But on August 28, Shell submitted new plans to the White House for offshore exploratory drilling in the Alaskan Arctic, meaning it’s on course to resurrect its Arctic drilling plans as early as summer 2015.
In the past two years, a massive global movement has emerged calling for a sanctuary around the North Pole, to protect the Arctic and its unique wildlife from the onslaught of oil drilling and industrial fishing. More than six million people have joined the movement, and more than 1,000 influential people have signed an Arctic Declaration, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Emma Thompson and Sir Paul McCartney.
On 19 September UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met with Arctic campaigners to receive a global petition and said he would consider convening an international summit to discuss the issue of Arctic protection.