Open Letter to British Cycling about their Shell Partnership
12th October 2022
**[Update: We subsequently met with British Cycling in person in late 2022 to discuss the issue. We made a strong case, however, they were not moved to look at ending the partnership. We also offered again the free CLT course, which they are considering.]
We are writing to you from Protect Our Winters UK, a coalition of passionate outdoor people, athletes, scientists and brands. We believe in progress over perfection and action over apathy. As cyclists ourselves, we understand that we can’t get it right every time and making mistakes is an essential part of progress and success, both athletically and otherwise. With that in mind, we consider your announcement to partner with oil and gas giant Shell as egregious, especially in the middle of a climate crisis.
The leading scientific body Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have stated that we have to significantly reduce greenhouse emissions - halving them by 2030 to avoid climate catastrophe. These climate impacts will not only be disastrous for our sport, but for our communities, health, and nature - and will impact the BAME community, people with disabilities and the most vulnerable the worst. That is not what cycling stands for, not now and not ever.
We do not accept that Shell’s values align with that of British cyclists, and the disconnect between Shell’s targets and action is staggering. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has stated that there can be no more new investments in fossil fuel supply beyond that already committed as of 2021 and Shell continues to invest and extract at all costs. Shell is responsible for 3% of all global greenhouse emissions in recent centuries, and assessments show they will exceed their 1.5 degree contribution before 2050. This is not compatible with international climate targets, and they have not accepted the science in regards to the amount of fossil fuels that must be kept in the ground to facilitate a managed decline and deliver a Just Transition for workers and affected communities.
Extracting at all costs and winning at all costs have similar parallels. They both come at great expense to people and the planet. British Cycling must lean into its Ethical Excellence and show some essential and bold leadership in this space. There will be no peloton, gold medals, clubs or coaches on a planet that is uninhabitable.
Protect Our Winters UK helps passionate outdoor people become effective climate advocates to protect the people, places and sports we love from climate change. We invite you to join us on this journey, and are offering to train your senior leadership in carbon literacy for free, as we see you as an incredibly important and influential partner in tackling the climate crisis and delivering a prosperous future for all.
We have appreciated your campaigning to date, but now we ask you to commit to the back pedalling that is necessary and withdraw your commitment to partner with Shell. Marginal gains might make the bike go faster but radical gains are essential in climate ambition to deliver a winning result for nature, our health, the most vulnerable, and to create the world we want to live in.
So many of us ride our bikes to feel good, exercise and because it’s a sustainable mode of transport with a proven positive impact on the environment, so we’re feeling shocked today as the Shell sponsorship goes directly against those efforts.
We look forward to hearing your response,
Yours in change,
Protect Our Winters UK
(Thanks to Tom Laws for the banner image)
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