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Olympic Games organisers face protests over BP sponsorship deal

London 2012 chiefs criticised for allowing oil giant to be major sponsor and official ‘carbon offset partner’ to summer event

Olympics organisers have come under attack from environmentalists, artists, indigenous people’s leaders and development groups over the position of BP as an official partner in the games.

In an open letter to the IOC, the London organising committee (Locog) and the Commission for a Sustainable London, 30 signatories say the organisers have failed to consider the broader ethical and environmental impacts of potential sponsors.

The oil company, say the signatories, is unsuitable to be a major Games sponsor because of its involvement in extracting Canadian tar sands, and its development, with others, of giant oil fields in the vulnerable Russian Arctic.

“BP’s business model involves continuing to extract fossil fuels long into the future, playing a central role in ushering in irreversible climate change. In other words, it is one of the least sustainable companies on earth”, says the letter.

“In virtually every element of BP’s involvement in London 2012 there is cause for alarm as to how it got Locog’s blessing and slipped past the commission’s watchful eye”, it says.

The signatories include Greenpeace UK, London mayoral candidate Jenny Jones, the director of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, the World Development Movement, the Polaris Institute, Climate Rush and the UK Tar Sands Network.

BP, they say, plans to provide only conventional fossil fuel for the 5,000 official Olympic vehicles and, as the official carbon offset partner, it “promotes the seductive idea that barely any behavioural change is needed to combat climate change because offsetting effectively eliminates carbon emissions”.

Controversy around Dow Chemicals’s sponsorship of the Olympic Stadium wrap erupted after Indian activists protested against the deal with Dow, which now owns Union Carbide, the company responsible for the 1984 Bhopal disaster.

Activists have also voiced concerns over the choice of corporate sponsors including worldwide partners McDonald’s and Olympic suppliers Rio Tinto.

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