Shell has abandoned its sponsorship of one of Britain’s most prestigious wildlife photography exhibitions after protests by environmental groups. The oil giant confirmed this weekend it would be severing ties with the Wildlife Photographer of the Year show at the Natural History Museum, London, from this year. The move follows intense pressure from Friends of the Earth and WWF, who have accused the company of using the event to “greenwash” its environmental credentials.
Eco-warriors who have played a prominent role in the campaign include Mark Brown, the vegan grandson of Sir Derek Vestey, who made a pounds 1 billion fortune in the meat trade. Brown and fellow activists from the group London Rising Tide staged monthly demonstrations outside the exhibition centre. In 2000 Brown was acquitted of being the ringleader of the Reclaim the Streets march that triggered riots in the City, causing £2m of damage.
Shell is the latest oil multinational to be accused by the eco-lobby of using environmental causes as “greenwash”. BP’s launch of its “beyond petroleum” campaign to explore alternative sources of energy was greeted with derision by green activists. Opponents of Shell’s sponsorship – entries for the 2008 prize close in March – argued the company is an inappropriate sponsor because of its ambitions in the Arctic and the destruction it causes in areas such as the Alberta tar sands in Canada and the east Siberian island of Sakhalin.
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