Climate Action: Fossil Free Netherlands Style

Earlier today, Fossil Free Netherlands published Uncovering #THEREALSHELL, an exposé on "Shell’s children’s marketing festival #GenerationDiscover" and the company's other marketing efforts to adults; specifically, its support for the arts. The Article describes the group's approach to climate action, philosophy on battling climate hypocrisy, and week-long efforts to expose Shell's greenwashing agenda...

"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."

Fossil Free Netherlands' battle plan?  A march, concert, Twitter storm, truth intervention table, and Liar's Award.

"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.

[D]uring the festival... [w]e 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.'"

While part of the group's efforts were going on at the Shell festival in The Hague, other members descended on the Concert Gebow in Amsterdam to perform a musical piece in protest of Shell's sponsorship of the arts...

"And while in The Hague... 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.

The rationale behind the group's protesting Shell's sponsorship of the arts was made clear by the Fossil Free Netherlands composer of the protest song:

"This protest is the performance of a new piece... a musical depiction of Shell's corrupting influence, the rivers Shell has poisoned and the global resistance against the fossil fuel industry. 

The reasons for this protest-concert are well explained in this Volkskrant article by Guido van Oorschot.  It is also in page 10 of today's printed edition.

To briefly summarise: 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."

Climate action - Fossil Free Netherlands style.

Climate inaction, MIT Style?...

Host Shell for "fireside chatsand make them Founding Members of the low carbon MIT Energy Initiative.

MIT ClimateX... focused on hosting fossil fuel... while the rest of the world battles fossil fuel.


Rick Shankman's picture

Before posting the Article

Before posting the Article above, I neglected to provide a link to Shell's Generation Discover children's (and a

dults) climate "education" campaign in The Netherlands.


Generation Discover aspires access for all Dutch citizens between 8 and 35 years to the opportunities science and technology offers them and society.

Primary schools – Generation Discover festival and bright ideas challenge/hub

  • This programme aims to spark the interest of primary school pupils about science and technology. The bright ideas challenge inspires children to come up with innovative solutions for our future society’s water, food and energy related challenges. This online challenge is combined with a visit to the offline bright ideas hub, for interactive and inspirational sessions. Over 30,000 people visited the inaugural annual Generation Discover festival in The Hague, a five-day festival where generation discover can experience science and technology.

Secondary schools – JetNet programme

  • The JetNet programme stimulates high school students to write their thesis about future energy sources. JetNet is a collaboration between the government, corporates and educational institutions. With this initiative, Shell encourages the future generation to explore their career opportunities and promote paths which are most critical to society’s future.

Students – Shell Eco-marathon

  • Shell Eco-marathon is a unique, global competition that challenges students to push the boundaries of energy efficiency on the road. There are three Shell Eco-marathon competitions held throughout the year in Asia, America and Europe. The competition provides an arena for students to test vehicles they design and build themselves. It aims to inspire young people to become scientists and engineering leaders of the future.

Entrepreneurs – New Energy Challenge

  • Shell believes innovation and entrepreneurship can address the challenges of a growing energy demand and the need for a better, cleaner world. Therefore, Shell actively supports enterprise development and collaborates with startups and scale ups to find solutions for future energy needs. Shell in partnership with YesDelft! And Rockstart has launched a second edition of the European wide competition; the New Energy Challenge to provide opportunities to early stage startups for financial support and exclusive coaching from Shell. This challenge focuses on New Energies which will become increasingly important for future generations."