British Cycling signs controversial long-term partnership with oil and gas company Shell 

British Cycling has signed an eight-year deal with oil and gas brand Shell UK, and the decision is already proving controversial.

On Monday (10th October) The national governing body for cycling in Britain announced that Shell would be the new official partner of the federation, resulting in support and investment from the energy and petrochemical firm.

Shell UK will support British Cycling’s work in elite level cycling and para-cycling, along with its advocacy, campaigning, and grassroots organisation work.

British Cycling also claimed Shell will help with its planned path to becoming a net zero organisation.

The announcement has already been met with widespread criticism online, with many raising issues with the environmental impacts caused by Shell’s work in fossil fuels.

Brian Facer, CEO of British Cycling, said: “We’re looking forward to working alongside Shell UK over the rest of this decade to widen access to the sport, support our elite riders and help our organisation and sport take important steps towards net zero – things we know our members are incredibly passionate about.

“Within our new commercial programme, this partnership with Shell UK brings powerful support for cycling, will help us to improve and will make more people consider cycling and cyclists.”

The agreement includes specific investment from Shell UK to support a new programme – to be named ‘Limitless,’ which aims to increase opportunities for disable people in cycling.

This project will provide a pathway for disabled riders from local to elite level, funding accessible environments for disabled riders across British Cycling’s 2,000 registered clubs.

British Cycling said Shell will also help support BC’s transition to an electric fleet of vehicles.

David Bunch, Shell UK country chair, said: “We’re very proud to become an official partner to British Cycling. The partnership reflects the shared ambitions of Shell UK and British Cycling to get to net zero in the UK as well as encouraging low and zero-carbon forms of transport such as cycling and electric vehicles.

“Working together we can deliver real change for people right across the country, from different walks of life, and also apply Shell’s world-leading lubricant technology to support the Great Britain Cycling Team in their quest for gold at the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

But the discussion of net zero and sustainability may ring hollow for many British Cycling members, owing to the fossil fuel-based nature of its business.

Shell has plans to increase its oil output by 38% by 2030, the second biggest planned increase amongst the energy giants.

While Shell has been more progressive in its environmental policies than some of its rivals, including supporting the Paris climate agreement and supporting low-carbon projects like electric car charging, just $1bn-$2bn of its annual $25bn-$30bn was allocated for low-carbon projects as of 2019.

Read more: Cycling UK calls for legislation to close ‘exceptional hardship loophole’ to keep all road users safe

Darren Henry, British Cycling Commercial Director, said: “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.

“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 to deliver our strategy and support the long-term growth of cycling and the sport across Britain.”

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