British Cycling is facing criticism from environmental campaign groups after signing a long-term partnership deal with Shell.
The partnership, which was announced on Monday and runs until the end of 2030, will help by “accelerating British Cycling’s path to net zero,” according to a press release from the governing body.
But environmental groups have condemned the move as an attempt by Shell to “greenwash its harmful activities.”
“The idea of Shell helping British Cycling reach net zero is as absurd as beef farmers advising lettuce farmers on how to go vegan,” said Greenpeace UK policy director Doug Parr.
Shell has been accused of failing to adequately prepare for the global shift to a low-carbon economy, and last month, a report from an energy and climate think-tank found that the amount of climate-positive messaging used by major oil and gas companies, including Shell, is inconsistent with their spending on low-carbon activities.
Responding to the report, Shell said it plans to spend 12% of its capital expenses on renewable energy this year, up from 10% in 2021.
“Cycling is the epitome of environmentally friendly travel,” said a statement from Friends of the Earth.
“It’s deeply disappointing that [British] Cycling could think it’s appropriate to partner with a fossil fuel giant. Shell is continuing to invest billions in oil and gas projects, while using cynical PR initiatives like this partnership to attempt to greenwash its harmful activities.
“Tobacco firms are rightly banned from sports sponsorship due to the damaging health effects. The same should apply to oil and gas companies which are devastating the health of our planet. Shell should have been told to get on its bike.”
Amid widespread criticism to the partnership announcement on social media, former British cyclist Callum Skinner said he’s “glad I don’t have to pedal their messaging anymore.”
British Cycling oversees all forms of cycling – from amateur to elite – in Britain.
As well as driving success at Olympic and major championship events, it is also tasked with encouraging more people to take up the sport and has 166,000 members, according to the British Cycling website.
The organization says Shell will support the governing body’s transition to an electric vehicle fleet and help to make cycling more accessible.
“We’re looking forward to working alongside Shell UK over the rest of this decade to widen access to the sport, support our elite riders and help our organisation and sport take important steps towards net zero – things we know our members are incredibly passionate about,” said Brian Facer, the CEO of British Cycling.
“Within our new commercial programme, this partnership with Shell UK brings powerful support for cycling, will help us to improve and will make more people consider cycling and cyclists.”
Shell says it is increasing the amount it spends on energy transition, which the company expects to constitute 50% of its total spend by 2025.
CNN’s Lauren Kent contributed to reporting.