A group of campaigners, academics and environmental organisations has called on World Sailing to oppose the Ineos sponsorship of the UK America’s Cup team because of the company’s involvement in fracking.
In an open letter to World Sailing President, Kim Anderson, the signatories said the presence of Ineos Team UK undermined the governing body’s “commitments to respecting and safeguarding our environment”.
The letter, written by the human rights lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, said:
“The ongoing presence of Ineos Team UK in World Sailing’s headline event single-handedly shatters these endeavours, bringing both World Sailing, and yourself, into disrepute. This is not ‘very environmentally aware’ behaviour that World Sailing claims to embody and promote.”
The signatories, which include Greenpeace, Break Free from Plastic movement, anti-fracking and climate action groups, Food and Water Watch and other human rights lawyers, called on World Sailing to end its silence about Ineos’ sponsorship of the UK team.
They said the America’s Cup competition should not be associated with a company which, they said, was “known for its environmentally destructive practices and ongoing assault on the democratic right to protest.”
Ineos holds the largest number of shale gas exploration licences in the UK. Last year, it was granted an injunction against protests at its shale gas sites in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire. In central Scotland, Ineos faces prosecution over failing to limit pollution from gas flaring near Grangemouth.
The letter also suggested that the Ineos sponsorship was incompatible with World Sailing’s commitment to address the crisis of plastic pollution in oceans. It said:
“Ineos is about fracking, plastics and pollution of our climate and oceans – not about the ethical and environmental standards of the World Sailing Association.”
The letter was delivered to World Sailing’s headquarters in London by Joe Corre, founder of the campaign group, Talk Fracking. He was accompanied by a 6ft tall model penguin, dolphin, fish and seagull with plastic bags over the heads.
Mr Corre said:
“World Sailing entertaining the greenwasher INEOS as a sponsor of the America’s Cup entrant Team UK smacks of total hypocrisy. They must make a stand on behalf of our oceans, drowning in plastic”.
“Sir Ben Ainslie should be ashamed of himself taking US$153 million of Jim Ratcliffe’s dirty money to enter the America’s Cup. Ben Ainslie turning a blind eye to what Ineos really are doesn’t cut it”.
Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director and Founder of Food & Water Watch said:
“Plastic production wreaks havoc on people and the planet—from the fracking wells and pipelines in Pennsylvania to the beaches and oceans across the globe that are polluted by plastic manufactured in Scotland and elsewhere.
“We are literally drowning In plastic, and companies like Ineos are making billions with the destruction of our climate and oceans. It is time to unite and stop them once and for all.”
World Sailing’s chief executive, Andy Hunt, said
“World Sailing does not sanction or otherwise approve sponsorship of competitors or teams. Advertising by facing boats must comply with World Sailing’s Advertising Code within the Racing Rules of Sailing which includes an obligation for all advertising to meet generally accepted moral and ethical standards.
“World Sailing has laid out its own ambitious commitment to help create a better world through sport through Sustainability Agenda 2030 and we have no reason to believe that the 36th America’s Cup will not comply with World Sailing policy.
“World Sailing’s Sustainability Agenda 2030 outlines how the sport will contribute to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. The Sustainability Agenda 2030 is split up into World Sailing’s six main operational areas with a total of 56 different targets. The targets range from participation to gender equality, water quality to single use plastic.”
DrillOrDrop invited Ineos to comment. This post will be updated with any response.