Opinion: Others should follow Waitrose’s lead – put Shell on ice!

This was meant to be a blog about Waitrose’s relationship with fossil fuel giant Shell (Waitrose had been considering plans to open up shops in Shell petrol stations across the country), calling on Waitrose to end their partnership with the mass polluter. But Waitrose must be mind-readers because yesterday they did just that. Well they didn’t quite go that far, but they did say they have put any further plans on hold, or as environmental group Greenpeace preferred to call it, on ice.

In a double blow to Shell, Waitrose have also declared their support for Greenpeace’s ‘Save the Arctic’ campaign – to create a global sanctuary in the high Arctic. This follows two weeks of intense pressure by Greenpeace and this weekend London’s local Greenpeace groups were set to hold massive protests on Waitrose stores across the capital – instead the focus will now be switched directly towards Shell. But despite the Waitrose success, the challenge ahead of us is massive; Shell are still planning to drill in the Arctic which could have massive consequences for climate change and biodiversity in the region. Other companies who are engaged in relationships with Shell should learn from Waitrose and dump Shell.

Waitrose should be praised for the decision they have taken today, but what on earth were they thinking? From destroying local African fishing communities to their plans for Arctic drilling, there seems no limit to the length that Shell will go to to extract more and more of that fossil fuel we all must vein ourselves off to avoid dangerous and catastrophic climate change. In their quest to get their hands on that fossil fuel, they do so leaving large footprints of destruction behind them.

Therefore it’s quite worrying that a company of Waitrose’s calibre, who have spent years building up their ethical credentials, could even consider a partnership with Shell. Some of the Waitrose customers that boycotted them upon finding out about their relationship with Shell will return in the wake of yesterday’s news, but some will also undoubtedly question if they still trust the Supermarket retailer. There is no doubt that Waitrose’s brief stint with Shell will be expensive and something they can’t repair overnight.

This also highlights the deeper issue of the power and dominance of the fossil fuel industry. Oil and gas companies are desperate to line-up relationships that could make them look like companies that care about the environment. Companies who have become a victim of this behaviour should look at what happened with Waitrose in horror and be weary of entering a partnership with fossil fuel companies and if they’re in one they should look to get out while they still can – it will not be a relationship with a happy ending.

Categories: Arctic, Greenpeace, Oil, Shell

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