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Oil spill at the Natural History Museum

Climate Camp activist | 03.02.2007 14:03 | Climate Camp 2006 | Climate Chaos | Ecology | London

Climate activists splatter oil across photo exhibition in outrage at Shell greenwash tactics.

Today at the Shell-sponsored Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum, 20 activists inspired by the Camp for Climate Action (1), smeared oil over the photographs. This was an act of outrage at Shell’s painfully transparent attempts to greenwash its reputation via cultural sponsorship.

Shell's sponsorship of the Natural History Museum is deeply ironic, since it devastates wildlife and the environment around the world through the extraction and production of ever more oil and gas.

Today's action comes hard on the heels of the release of Shell's 2006 financial figures, documenting the 13 billions of pounds made at the expense of people and the planet. Shell’s activities extracting oil result in major ecological and social impacts. Trading 3.6 million barrels of crude oil equivalent a day, the company is also a major contributor to climate change, which has been predicted to wipe out a quarter of all species on the planet by 2050, and to devastate the poorest regions of the planet (2). The extent of the threat was highlighted on Friday with the release of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change fourth report.

For all these reasons, the climate camp activists are calling on the Natural History Museum to end its oily sponsorship deal with Shell.

As the black oil-like liquid has been spread over the glass covering the photographs, the activists have not damaged the work itself. As Dan Baker said, “This is not an attack on the work of the photographers. Shell does not deserve to have its name associated with their beautiful images.” A banner reading “Make Nature History Museum - sponsored by Shell” was also unfurled.

Activist Daisy Williams said, “This action sheds light on the ugly stain that covers this exhibition as a result of the Museum's collusion with Shell. We're here to make sure everyone knows about this despicable greenwash sponsorship deal. With more public pressure, we can kick Shell out of the Natural History Museum!”

For high resolution photos of today’s action, visit this image site:

For interviews call: 07913 299 852

Climate Camp activist
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A little supportive protest in Aberdeen

03.02.2007 21:31

Aberdeen picture
Aberdeen picture

Well done! Ten of us held a protest outside a Shell petrol station in Aberdeen at the same time, with a large banner and placards, and we mentioned the London action in our press release, too.

Alan Fleming
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04.02.2007 01:07

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04.02.2007 17:59

Shell is the third largest oil company in the world.

It is also the new sponsor of the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition.

Despite attempts to ‘greenwash’ its reputation via blanket advertising and cultural sponsorship, Shell is still heavily implicated in producing ever-greater quantities of the oil and gas that are destabilising our climate to such an alarming degree. Climate change is set to wipe out millions of plant and animal species and to devastate the poorest regions of the planet. Shell’s activities also result in oil spills which are major causes of death and destruction for many varieties of life. Its planned refinery and pipeline project in County Mayo, Ireland, threatens a pristine ecosysystem, not to mention the homes and livelihoods of the inhabitants. Lastly, Shell is currently constructing a massive development at Sakhalin Island in Russia which is threatening the survival of the Western Pacific Grey Whale. For all these reasons, Shell should not be sponsoring the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. We call on the Natural History Museum to end its sponsorship deal with Shell.

If you agree with us that this is a ridiculous situation, here’s what you can do:

1.) Help get the word out, either with more copies of our postcard, or by contacting people – particularly photographers – who might be up for helping out or contributing images to our ongoing counter-exhibition (see 2.)

2.) We've put together a 'Shell's Wild Lie' counter-exhibition, which paints what we hope is a truer portrait of Shell and of wider climatic impacts on people and wildlife. We've taken it around the country as well as to the gates of the Natural History Museum (on the 11th anniversary of the murder of Ken Saro-Wiwa in Nigeria, November 10th 2006), and it's now available to borrow if you're running an event where it might be appropriate. It's also up online at

3.) Tell NHM boss Michael Dixon directly what you think of Shell (not to mention BP, which is a Museum partner): (020) 7942 5000;, & cc to and us.

We believe there can be a greener and fairer future for the planet and its people, a future that will require in part the consigning of the oil industry to the history books. Our campaign hopes to be one small step in that direction. Thanks for reading, and for anything you’re able to do.

Friends of the Earth UK is also campaigning on this issue: see

Art Not Oil/London Rising Tide, c/o 62 Fieldgate Street, London E1 1ES.
Tel: 07708 794665

John Elkington


Hide the following 3 comments

well done

03.02.2007 17:02

well done to anyone who was involved in this. This is a brilliant action.. v inspiring.

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05.02.2007 14:57

I'm not a massive fan of any of the oil companies, and certainly not Shell, but, and here comes the unpopular bit, the Wildlife Photography competition is open to photographers of all ages all around the world. In my humble opinion, the competition itself raises awareness in the beauty of wildlife. The people who have damaged their (not Shells) pictures of life in its natural habitat have done nothing to battle the destruction of the environment. What they have done, again, in my humble opinion, is show some people with a keen interest and respect in the environment (the photographers and those who would visit the exhibition), what a mindless bunch of yobs can do in the name of a most worthy cause when they chose to hijack it and pass off their criminal activities as some sort direct action hitting hard at the heart of an environment destroying multinational.

So, if your intention was to further alienate those who could be convinced to stand up and be heard in the fight to save the environment, well done, you've excelled yourselves once again.


It is NOT an attack on the pictures or artists themselves

05.02.2007 21:40

As was said in the article:

"As the black oil-like liquid has been spread over the glass covering the photographs, the activists have not damaged the work itself. As Dan Baker said, “This is not an attack on the work of the photographers. Shell does not deserve to have its name associated with their beautiful images.” A banner reading “Make Nature History Museum - sponsored by Shell” was also unfurled."

The oil can be cleaned up, nothing has been permantley damaged. If this action by a "bunch of yobs" annoys you, even if you don't like what the oil companies are doing, maybe you would like to inform us ignorant morons about how you would do an effective campaign against climate change. The way I see it, diversity is strength, and we need a lot less backbiting and slagging each other off over tactics and let people do what they think is best. When the people of power are trying hard to ensure you don't have a voice, you somtimes need to be controversial in order to get your voice heard.

Tom A


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