Children’s Art Competition – PR smokescreen of slick marketing by oil industry
Next month, schoolchildren from all over Ireland are expected to walk out of their classes for a one day ‘School Strike’, the first ever of its kind. The action, inspired by Swedish teenager, Greta Thunberg, and now spreading worldwide, is designed to draw attention to the dire climate crisis today’s children will face in their adult lives.
Children are being forced onto the streets to take direct action as a result of the absolute failure of our politicians, media or social leaders to even talk seriously about, let alone tackle the rapidly escalating threat of global climate breakdown.
However, no one sector has done more to block and obstruct climate action than the fossil fuel industry. Having known for decades about the extreme dangers involved in continuing to extract and burn hydrocarbons, the industry has not just engaged in reckless commercial activity, but it has also doubled down by financing and supporting organised climate denial.
Apart from profits, what this industry craves is credibility, and tries to buy it via sponsoring of artistic and cultural events. However, the tide is turning. Last year, Amsterdam’s famous Van Gogh museum ended its sponsorship deal with Shell, despite it being Holland’s largest oil and gas company. Another Dutch museum, the Mauritshuis, followed suit.
In 2015, the UK Science Museum announced its withdrawal from a controversial sponsorship deal with Shell for its climate-change exhibition and Danish toy making giant, Lego, cancelled an €80 million deal to distribute its toys via Shell fuel stations.
Meanwhile, in Ireland, the 65th annual Texaco Children’s Art competition is now seeking entries. Texaco’s owner, Valero Energy has been rated by the US Union of Concerned Scientists as among the top three “most obstructionist” energy firms on climate change.
While this competition filled a valuable niche in promoting children’s art for many years, its continued sponsorship by an oil company in the age of climate change is an unacceptable and exploitative travesty.
According to John Gibbons An Taisce’s Climate Change Committee spokesperson:
“The fossil fuel industry, in narrow pursuit of its own profits, represents a clear danger to global civilisation, none more so than today’s children and teenagers. The Texaco Children’s Art competition is an increasingly thin PR smoke-screen for an industry that has shown reckless disregard for the future safety and well-being of the very children it invites to take part in its annual competition”.
In solidarity with the school strikers, An Taisce urges the public to not participate in the Texaco Children’s Art competition and requests that Education Minister, Joe McHugh puts alternate funding in place to support a future annual ‘Children’s Art Competition’ that we as a society can be truly proud of, one that reflects our values as well as our aspirations for the future.
For further information, contact:
John Gibbons, An Taisce Climate Change Committee: +353 87 233 2689
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce. Tel: +353 87 241 1995
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
- A Climate of Corporate Control https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/documents/scientific_integrity/a-climate-of-corporate-control-report.pdf
About An Taisce
An Taisce is a charity that works to preserve and protect Ireland's natural and built heritage. We are an independent charitable voice for the environment and for heritage issues. We are not a government body, semi-state or agency. Founded in 1948, we are one of Ireland’s oldest and largest environmental organisations.