British Cycling has signed a long-term partnership with the energy and petrochemical company Shell, the governing body saying it is “looking forward to working alongside Shell UK” until at least the end of 2030.
In the announcement, British Cycling claims the partnership will see the exchange of “world-class innovation and expertise” while also sharing a commitment to “accelerating British Cycling’s path to net zero.” The statement also goes on to explain how Shell has pledged to support British Cycling’s transition to an electric-vehicle fleet.
Despite claims from the multinational firm that it wants to “help the UK towards net zero”, a 2022 study found that the spending on clean energy from the world’s ninth-largest corporate producer of greenhouse gas emissions was insignificant and opaque, with little to suggest Shell’s words matched its actions.
“We’re looking forward to working alongside Shell UK over the rest of this decade,” British Cycling CEO Brian Facer said. “To widen access to the sport, support our elite riders and help our organization and sport take important steps towards net zero – things we know our members are incredibly passionate about.”
A study originally produced by Shell in 1991 and unearthed in 2017 showed the company understood the danger of the climate emergency yet took little action to heed its own warnings.
Meanwhile, British Cycling has pushed sustainable causes and environmental concerns for years. One blog post uploaded to its website prior to the 2008 Track World Championships in Manchester boasted of the organization’s green credentials. The post touted the Manchester velodrome’s proximity to public transport, as well as…wait for it…recycling.
Earlier this year, another announcement trumpeted that British Cycling was to save 4.5 tonnes of paper and plastic waste by slimming down their 150,000 members’ membership packs. On top of that, it reminded people that in August 2021 it was “proud to join the British Association for Sustainable Sport, joining forces with like-minded sporting organizations passionate about having a positive environmental impact through sport”. Its ‘Let’s Ride Through Winter’ campaign also pledged to plant a tree for every person who completed a cycling challenge.
At that time, British Cycling Commercial Director, Darren Henry, said: “While we know that cycling is one of the most sustainable ways to get around, we understand our responsibility as a national governing body to set a positive example for our sport and communities and challenge our business processes to ensure that they are as sustainable as they can be.”
“We know that our growing membership is increasingly keen to see us tackle the environmental impact of our operations and events, and while we still have work to do I know that this will continue to be a real focus for the organization in the future.”
Following the Shell announcement, Henry had more to say. “At British Cycling we have a strong track record of working with our partners to enhance our work, have a real impact in communities and elevate the role that cycling plays in the thinking and actions of UK businesses,” Henry effused. “The partnership also shows our fresh commercial approach at British Cycling, as we look to work alongside a broader range and number of partners to help us deliver our strategy and support the long-term growth of cycling and the sport across Britain.”
In the “Sustainable Framework” on British Cycling’s website, the governing body encourages local clubs around the UK “to look beyond the current year to ask the big questions about what sustainability means for them and how they can be relevant to their community,” before adding: “We are focused on supporting clubs to operate in a way that means they will be surrounded [sic] for the long term.”
By ‘long term’ it appears British Cycling means the next few decades (or at least until its Shell money runs out). At which point we’ll be too hot and sweaty to do anything about it.