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“Don’t mention Arctic oil”: How Shell’s latest bid to get young people hooked on fossil fuels seriously backfired

Wednesday, April 29, 2015 15:42
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Shell knows it’s losing the fight against Arctic drilling, and here’s why.

A few weeks ago, we got an email from an outraged filmmaker saying that he’d been invited to enter a viral video competition sponsored by Shell. The competition was offering $50,000 for short films that “challenge preconceptions that fossil fuels, especially natural gas, have no part in our future lives.”

In other words, Shell is using cash to lure creative talent into making videos that promote fossil fuels and convince young people that renewable energy won’t work. Meanwhile, it just emerged that Shell lobbied to undermine EU renewables targets.

Understandably, a lot of people were pissed off about this spin competition:

So we hatched a plan with our filmmaker friend to enter Shell’s competition ourselves, in order to see if we could smoke out more info from Shell about what was really behind this.

The filmmaker submitted a video storyboard about an “energy mix” dance party. And just to see what would happen, one of the energy sources mentioned was Arctic oil.

The response we got back from Shell, through a Zooppa competition representative, was crystal clear: “You should NOT mention on your storyboard Arctic Oil.”


So let’s review: Shell wants cool artists to make internet videos that convince young people to buy fossil fuels, but says “DON’T MENTION ARCTIC OIL.”

It’s sort of like Marlboro asking artists to convince youth that smoking is sexy, but telling them “don’t mention cancer.”

And this is all the more significant because right now, Shell is trying to get permission and making plans to drill in the Arctic this summer off the US coast of Alaska.Six Greenpeace Climbers Scale Shell's Arctic-Bound Oil Rig. 04/07/2015 © Vincenzo Floramo / Greenpeace

A couple weeks ago, six brave activists camped on Shell’s Arctic oil rig for five days as it crossed the Pacific Ocean. Supported by people all over the world, they helped shine a light on Shell’s risky plans to drill for oil in the home of the polar bears, risking a deadly oil spill and frightening impacts on the global climate.

It’s pretty clear that Arctic oil is the one thing Shell doesn’t want people talking about. If they’re trying to silence us on Arctic oil, it means they’re worried. So we need to speak up about it louder than ever. Click the image below to share it with all your friends on Facebook to stick it to Shell.

But Shell’s attempt to censor debate on Arctic oil isn’t the only thing wrong here. The contest itself is meant to target a younger audience, because Shell knows that millennials are the culture creators of the digital age and have enormous power to influence our society. Basically, Shell’s trying to persuade young people it has a place in their future. Its profits depend on it.

But unluckily for Shell, the young creatives it targets are the same ones who already see the potential of renewable energy and high tech solutions that could build a future free of fossil fuels. These young people are used to watching entire industries revolutionise in just a few years – for them, the idea that fossil fuels will be around forever is laughable.

Even worse for Shell, many of these creatives are the same artists speaking out against the disturbing trend of large corporations “crowdsourcing” content in ways that don’t properly credit or pay the content creators. Shell’s competition is tightly controlled, with no public voting or transparency over the choice of winners. Artists lose the rights to their work as soon as they submit it to Shell.

All around the world, people young and old are saying enough is enough. They’re joining the movement to Save the Arctic by the millions, and leading the transition into an exciting new era of clean, renewable technology.

Shell has made Arctic oil off-limits in their competition; so let’s make the Arctic off-limits to Shell. Click here to sign the petition to save the Arctic now.

Trillia Fidei-Bagwell is the international online campaigns co-ordinator for Greenpeace’s Arctic campaign, and works with Greenpeace Argentina.


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