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By Ellen Ormesher, Senior Reporter

August 29, 2023 | 4 min read

Animated spot calls out fossil fuel sponsorship of major sporting events, which it says distracts fans from brands’ climate destruction.

The global fossil fuel industry extracts enough oil every three hours and 37 minutes to fill a rugby stadium according to an animated video created by Greenpeace France.

The climate campaigning network has turned a lot of attention to the relationship between advertising and oil firms in recent years, including high-profile action at Cannes Lions in 2022. It is now focussing on fossil fuel sponsorship of global events including sports tournaments, claiming it is a distraction tactic to mask the environmental impact of the industry.

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Together with production company Studio Birthplace, represented by Park Village in the UK, Greenpeace France has created a video in advance of the Rugby World Cup 2023, which this year is sponsored by French fossil fuel giant TotalEnergies.

In advance of the tournament’s kick-off, TotalEnergies’ chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanné said: “Integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline and respect are key features of this sport and they match our company’s values. More importantly, rugby is organized first and foremost around a team, just like TotalEnergies: a collective of women and men committed to the energy transition.”

But Edina Ifticene, campaigner at Greenpeace France, says: “Integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline and respect – those are rugby values. But fossil fuel companies like TotalEnergies piggyback those values by sponsoring popular sports events like the Rugby World Cup to distract everyone from their climate destruction. Meanwhile, fossil fuel companies won’t stop extracting fossil fuels – even though they know it’s jeopardizing a livable future for us all – because they like the record-breaking profits they’re making.”

A Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe report released last week analyzed the 2022 annual reports of six global fossil fuel majors and six European oil and gas companies. It revealed that just 0.3% of their combined energy production came from renewable power. According to the report, 99% of TotalEnergies’ energy production last year came from fossil fuels, meaning only 1% came from genuinely renewable sources.

To highlight this, the animated 60-second film, ‘TotalPollution: A Dirty Game,’ digitally fills up the Stade de France – the stadium in Paris where the first match between France and the New Zealand All Blacks will take place on September 8 – with the amount of crude oil the global fossil fuel industry collectively produces in three hours and 37 minutes. That’s more than six and a half stadiums worth of oil every 24 hours.

The video features voice-overs from Irish comedian and actor Seán Burke and French comedian and radio columnist Guillaume Meurice. In a slapstick fashion, the animated video shows oil spilling out of TotalEnergies logos dotted around the stadium, knocking over the rugby players and fans in their seats, who are represented by mannequins. The last 10 seconds of the video feature footage of real climate destruction caused both directly and indirectly by the fossil fuel industry.

Ifticene continued: “We want a complete ban on fossil fuel advertising and sponsorship of major sporting events. It benefits no one but fossil fuel companies and deliberately distracts everyone from the environmental destruction they cause and the communities they harm. For a safer and fairer world, we must end the fossil fuel era, starting with climate-wrecking new fossil fuel projects, before it’s too late.”

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