Environmental activist groups including Greenpeace are seen climbing a Shell oil tank to protest against "greenwashing" advertisements in Rotterdam, Netherlands, on October 4 2021. Picture: REUTERS/EVA PLEVIER
Environmental activist groups including Greenpeace are seen climbing a Shell oil tank to protest against "greenwashing" advertisements in Rotterdam, Netherlands, on October 4 2021. Picture: REUTERS/EVA PLEVIER

Amsterdam — Greenpeace activists on Monday sought to block shipping traffic at a Shell refinery in Rotterdam port, as part of a campaign against what they call “greenwashing” - misleading advertising by oil industry companies seeking to profile themselves as pro-environment.

In the action in Rotterdam, the 33-metre-long vessel The Beluga anchored at the entrance of Shell’s section of the port, which houses the large Pernis refinery, and activists scaled a large oil tank.

Shell spokesperson Marc Potma said in a reaction that the company supports groups’ right to demonstrate “provided this is done in a safe manner”.

“However, that is not the case now. The protesters are illegally on our property [in Rotterdam] where strict safety regulations apply,” he said.

Rotterdam Port spokesperson Tie Schellekens said there was “barely any” disruption to shipping traffic, but openings to some docks had been blocked.

“Because of that two barges are unable to load or unload,” he said.

The action comes as Greenpeace and more than 20 other environmental groups kicked off a campaign for a Europe-wide ban on adverts and sponsorships by oil and gas companies, comparing them to harmful tobacco promotions.

The groups said they would launch protests and collect a million signatures from EU citizens to put a law banning ads for fossil fuels before the EU Commission.

“The EU has already introduced a directive banning cross-border tobacco advertising and sponsorships,” Greenpeace said in a statement issued in the run-up to the COP26 UN climate conference in Glasgow.

“Now it’s time for a similar law against fossil fuel industries for the health of the planet and our future.”

The Commission, the EU’s executive body, is obliged to give serious consideration to petitions put forward under the “European Citizens Initiative”, a direct democracy plan enacted by the union in 2007.

More than 20 environmental groups are backing the Ban Fossil Fuel Ads campaign, including Global Witness, Friends of the Earth and Avaaz.

The draft law would ban advertisements for fossil fuels, for vehicles that use them, and block oil companies from sponsorships. 

Reuters

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