During the first week of October 2017 the Generation Discover festival took place in The Hague, the Netherlands. This 5-day long festival is organized by Shell to promote science and technology among 8-12 year old children. At least, that’s what they say…
Of course, the real agenda for one of the richest fossil fuel companies in the world to organize this festival is: cleaning up their image and gaining the social licence to operate and increase profit by digging up more oil and gas. Shell is still investing 99% of their budget in fossil fuels. As parents, children, teachers and concerned citizens we simply cannot accept this huge festival teaching tens of thousands children about sustainable energy and the urgency of climate change, while the organizer is one of the main offenders in the climate crisis.
Therefore we organized a series of actions to uncover #TheRealShell: a twitter storm, a Climate Parade on the Saturday before the festival, and various interventions throughout the festival to uncover the real story for all the children visiting the festival.
Shell even received an award in June this year for the Generation Discover event: the European Excellence Award for Public Affairs. A lobby award – this explains enough about the aims of Shell with the festival. Therefore, during our climate parade on Saturday the 30th of Sept, we awarded ‘Shell’ with a replica of the award. This time it was the ‘Jokkebrok’ (liar) award – a prize for misleading the public.
4-8 October, during the festival, we were present near the festival terrain. We interacted with the children who visited the festival about the real shell. We handed out stickers with: “Shell has 100% green talks, 99% dirty energy” and “What is Shell doing for the climate? 99% causing the problem, 1% solving the problem.” And of course, there were cookies for the green side!
And while in The Hague we were targeting the Generation Discover festival, a special premiere took place in Amsterdam on October 5th. The #ShellSymphony, a piece composed by Kate Honey – targeting the concertgebouw’s relationship with Shell – was performed for the first time. The link between generation discover and Shell sponsoring the art is clear: Shell is greenwashing their image not only through children’s marketing, they are also using the cultural sector to create a positive image to be able to continue business as usual.
In Kate’s own words:
Shell and other fossil fuel companies sponsor artistic institutions around the globe. This artistic sponsorship is a crucial part of the fossil fuel industry’s ‘social license to operate’ – i.e. public acceptance of their business practices. By continuing with a Shell sponsorship deal, the Concertgebouw is cleaning the image of Shell among employees of both institutions, business leaders and the general public. Shell’s business practices – that is, over 99% of its energy business continuing to be fossil fuels, decades after the company learned about the risks of climate change – is a serious threat to world peace and brings the world a step closer to breaching the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement. It is time to end this sponsorship deal. Read the full speech here.