Greenpeace releases animated video in campaign against fossil fuel sponsorship of Rugby World Cup

Environmental group Greenpeace released an animated video Wednesday showing a massive amount of oil flooding the field for the upcoming opening game of the Rugby World Cup in a campaign against fossil fuel sponsorship of big sporting events.

The video takes aim at energy giant TotalEnergies, a sponsor of the event in France.

The film shows the Stade de France seconds before the start of the first match of the tournament between France and New Zealand on Sept. 8. Oil spills out of TotalEnergies advertising boards hanging in the stadium.

“The global fossil fuel industry extracts enough oil to fill a rugby stadium every 3 hours and 37 minutes,” Greenpeace said.

The environmental group said Rugby World Cup Limited tried to block the release of the video on Tuesday on the eve of its release.

“But we won’t be silenced,” said Edina Ifticene, a campaigner at Greenpeace France. “Fossil fuel companies like TotalEnergies sponsor events like the Rugby World Cup to distract everyone from their climate destruction.”

TotalEnergies said in a statement to the The Associated Press that “it’s wrong to claim that TotalEnergies is greenwashing by sponsoring the Rugby World Cup 2023.”

The company added that the World Cup is a chance for TotalEnergies, which employs nearly 35,000 people in France, to “raise awareness of the multi-energy dimension of our activities and our ambition to be a major player in the energy transition, committed to carbon neutrality by 2050, together with society.”

When it became a sponsor of the tournament, TotalEnergies said it would work with organizers “to create an environmentally responsible event, notably through the deployment of a decarbonized mobility plan and the supply of green energy.”

Earlier this week, local organizers and TotalEnergies announced the launch of a car-sharing service for fans. The company said it also installed temporary electric charging stations near World Cup stadiums, and offered free electric recharging on match days.

“As a reminder, TotalEnergies will invest nearly 5 billion euros in renewable and low-carbon energies by 2023, and will therefore, for the first time, devote more investments to low-carbon energies than to new hydrocarbon projects,” the company said. “By 2030, TotalEnergies will be one of the world’s largest low-carbon power producers.”

According to a Greenpeace report last week that analyzed the 2022 annual reports of several oil companies in Europe, “99% of TotalEnergies’ energy production last year came from fossil fuels, meaning only 1% came from genuinely renewable sources.”


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