The choice of BP as Sustainability Partner for the London 2012 Olympics sounds like a sick joke, considering its record of environmental devastation around the world. There’s clearly an urgent need for the Olympics organisers to broaden their definition of ‘sustainability’ and start applying it to their choice of sponsor.
Determined to meet face to face with the Olympic organisers, the UK Tar Sands Network gathered a collection of leading environmentalists, academics, politicians, campaigners, activists and representatives of devastated communities, and sent an open letter to the International Olympic Committee, London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and Commission for a Sustainable London 2012, raising a series of concerns over BP’s sponsorship of the forthcoming Olympics. The only one so far that has agreed to a meeting is the Commission for a Sustainable London - the Olympics’ eco-watchdog - from which Meredith Alexander dramatically resigned over Dow's sponsorship.
The letter – with 34 signatories including representatives of Sierra Club US, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, as well as London Assembly member Jenny Jones and Nick Reeves OBE, Director of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management – points out that given the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the company’s vast fossil fuel extraction activities around the globe, its recent entry into the highly-polluting tar sands and subsequent decision to close down its solar division, BP ‘is one of the least sustainable companies on earth and should not have been given such a prestigious environmental leadership role.
The letter can be found here.
BP has also come under fire for its sponsorship of UK-based cultural institutions like Tate and the British Museum. At the end of 2011, more than 8,000 Tate members and visitors presented a petition to Tate at its Members’ AGM calling on the gallery to end its financial relationship with BP. For more info on oil sponsorship of the arts, see Liberate Tate, Platform, Rising Tide and Art Not Oil.