Rugby World Cup 2023: in an open letter, Greenpeace denounces the “inconsistency” of the sponsorship of the competition by TotalEnergies

Accepting money from TotalEnergies means endorsing the climatic activities of the oil and gas major, which today operates in a country whose regime is guilty of war crimes.“In an open letter, published on Wednesday April 6, the environmental protection NGO Greenpeace denounces the sponsorship by TotalEnergies of the 2023 Rugby World Cup organized in France.

We find this partnership completely contradictory on two subjects“, emphasizes Edina Ifticene, oil and gas campaign manager at Greenpeace France. “There are inconsistencies on climate and ethical issues“, she states, also indicating that a petition was started last week to “engage the public around these issues.

Critics from the announcement of the partnership between TotalEnergies and France 2023 in June 2021, the members of the NGO then mobilized to denounce, for the first time, this partnership in the name of the climate emergency. “We are going to celebrate the talent of nations like Samoa, Fiji or Tonga who will find themselves under water because of climate change by highlighting a sponsor who is responsible for it“, protests Edina Ifticene.

Since the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops, activists have added an ethical dimension to their protest. TotalEnergies, the last Western oil group to continue its activities in Russia is in the eye of the storm. Despite its announcement to stop buying Russian oil, at the end of 2022, the French company continues its gas activities and has not withdrawn its financial investments. A position deemed cynical by Greenpeace.

World Rugby has announced the suspension of Russia and Belarus because of the war in Ukraine, but we keep the sponsorship of TotalEnergies which intends to continue its activities there. It’s completely inconsistent“, insists Edina Ifticene. “Oil and gas money fuels the Russian state and TotalEnergies is the only oil and gas major that refuses to cease operations in Russia. As a result, the multinational takes the risk of participating in the financing of Vladimir Putin’s war“, can we read in the open letter.

Received by Claude Atcher, director general of the organizing committee for the 2023 World Cup, in a desire to organize a “green” competition, the NGO, accompanied by other associations and organizations, clearly expressed its rejection of this sponsorship. “France 2023 told us they would come back to us and they didn’t“, supports Edina Ifticene.

TotalEnergies is a sponsor of many sporting events, such as the African Cup of Nations organized in early 2022. A situation criticized by Greenpeace.  (CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP)

Greenpeace draws a parallel with the city of Paris, which refused the partnership with the oil giant for the organization of the 2024 Olympic Games, in a desire to organize a more sustainable competition. The oil and gas campaigner also takes the example of tobacco and alcohol companies, which have been banned from sponsorship and patronage for public health reasons. “Today, the fossil industry is responsible for pollution that impacts health, but also for a much deeper impact on our planet, so it is no longer possible to condone it.“, she believes.

A partnership that would amount to eight million euros according to the NGO, or 1% of the overall budget. This participation gives TotalEnergies international visibility, with its logo displayed on the sidelines and on advertisements, as well as access to official boxes with heads of state and ambassadors.

Contacted, the organization of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France indicated that it did not wish to comment on the situation.

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