We are organisations and athletes that are deeply concerned about the climate breakdown we are starting to see around the world. We recognise the need to act urgently to phase out fossil fuels in order to avoid the worst scenarios set out by scientists in the recent IPCC report.
We were troubled when in January 2020 Channel 4 announced that BP – one of the world’s biggest oil and gas producers – would be one of the sponsors of its coverage of the Tokyo Paralympic Games. Sport continues to be awash with high-carbon sponsorship deals and advertising just at the moment when we must be rejecting the distraction, delay and greenwash tactics of major fossil fuel companies and rapidly transitioning towards a zero carbon world. Major polluters like BP are using these sports sponsorship deals to cultivate a ‘social license to operate’ that they do not deserve in our rapidly warming world. In reality, BP has played a pivotal part in ensuring that warming has continued unabated over the past decades, in full knowledge of the damage its products were doing. Today, BP plans to continue extracting oil and gas decades into the future, way beyond safe climate limits.
So we were extremely pleased to discover that something has changed and BP is no longer sponsoring Channel 4’s Paralympics coverage. We commend everyone who spoke out, internally and externally, against this sponsorship deal, and welcome this sign that sport is starting to step away from its embrace of high-carbon brands and refusing to be a billboard to advertise companies that are fuelling the climate emergency.
Sadly, BP remains a ‘Gold Partner’ of the British Paralympics Association, an International Partner of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and also sponsors National Paralympic Committees and individual athletes in several countries where it operates. This puts those athletes in an impossible position. They depend on funding in order to be able to train and compete, but that funding is coming from the very industries that are endangering their countries, communities and ability to keep competing in the sports they love. We call on the British Paralympics Association and the International Paralympic Committee to publicly commit to replacing BP as sponsor after Tokyo, and to no longer force athletes to compete under the banner of a mega-polluter while we are in an escalating climate crisis.
Chris Broadbent, Planet Earth Games
Dr Mark Doidge, University of Brighton
Richard Hamilton, Spirit of Football
Dave Hampton, the Carbon Coach
Dr Stuart Parkinson, Scientists for Global Responsibility
Nicky Saunter, Rapid Transition Alliance
Andrew Simms, New Weather Institute
Emilie Tricarico, SEEKonomics
Jess Worth, Culture Unstained