Shell's new green image

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Shell’s new green image

Shell new festival ‘Make the Future’ pretends they are not destroying the world.

When the main point of a business is to destroy the possibility of human life on earth, sometimes people think it’s not good to ask them to stop. If the company earns billions of dollars from destroying the world, they want to continue. So they start advertising to show the positive side of killing everyone.


Shell’s new festival is ‘Make the Future’. This is an oil company that is now pretending it can save the world from oil companies.

They are spending so much money on this 4-day festival in London’s Olympic Park. And all for a few simple green-technology gadgets: a hotdog van powered by footsteps and a lamp powered by gravity.

This simple green technology is not to replace the need for oil and gas, but to make people think that Shell is helping the world, not destroying it. So they can continue to extract and burn all the oil and coal. This is a ‘greenwashing campaign’, to make young people thing that Shell is an ethical, environmentally-conscious company. Many of them now believe this.

But luckily, most people don’t believe it and are acting against the lies. A ‘subvertising’ (subversive advertising) group Brandalism put up lots of anti-Shell posters in bus stops in cities around the country, including outside Shell headquarters in London.

These show how absurd Shell’s propaganda is. And Shell doesn’t like it. Their lawyers took Brandalism’s Facebook page offline. Then they stopped me making Shell badges and t-shirts. I’ve been selling the badges and t-shirts to raise money to make more art against oil and gas.

I don’t have money to fight one of the biggest companies in the world. But I am selling far more badges and t-shirts so I can annoy Shell more.

But why Shell? It’s true there are no good oil companies, but Shell’s greenwashing campaign is especially bad. Shell are investing more and more in fracking and other techniques that destroy the earth. Also, Shell has a history of abusing human rights, fighting against climate laws and saying the climate is not changing.

There are other examples, eg. BP changed their branding to ‘Beyond Petroleum’ in 2000 with a flower logo.

But the biggest, long-term threat is that the oil industry is trying to make ‘natural’ gas the replacement for oil. They love the word ‘natural’. But gas is only as natural as oil or cyanide and only a little less dangerous. Shell show natural gas in their videos as one of the energy innovations they’ve developed together with gravity lights and roadside wind turbines.


Oil companies like to talk about the ‘energy mix’ of oil and gas as well as renewables so people don’t decide to end their industry. But we need to stop using oil and gas completely if we want human civilisation (and animals and plants) to have a good chance to survive.

The main point they make is that only technology that can save us from the worst of climate change. Scientists tell us that we need to cut carbon emissions now to survive. And a few solar-powered torches or recycling a few bottles into trainers will not do much to help. We need a radical restructure of our economy.

We need to nationalize oil and gas companies now, to force them to invest in zero-emission energy based on renewables. We must also use the arms industry to make the thousands of turbines and solar panels we need. If not, many of the most important cities in the world will be lost at sea. It’s difficult to imagine, but it’s a fact of future history that if we do not act together against the big oil and gas companies, their business model will kill us all.

Darren Cullen is an artist and writer based in London.