Olympics' Sponsors Launch Greenwashing Campaign
If you've been watching the Olympics over the last week, you've probably seen this commercial—Dow Chemical's latest attempt to achieve a heartwarming, green image.
In the spirit of Olympic integrity, London's preparation for the event with an eye on the environment has officially made it “the greenest Games ever.” Ironically, three of the Olympics' official sponsors, Dow Chemical, BP and Rio Tinto, are up to their neck in lawsuits over large-scale environmental harms.
Dow's faceless green man is particularly annoying environmentalists in the UK, who haven't forgotten about the company's role in the devastating 1984 gas leak at an Indian pesticide factory in Bhopal. Survivors of the tragedy are currently holding their own “Special Olympics” with the children suffering from birth defects from the incident.
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Bhopal activists say Dow owes them compensation for the industrial disaster and have aggressively campaigned to get the company dropped as a sponsor of the games.
UK's environmental watchdogs recently launched “Greenwash Gold 2012,” a campaign bringing attention to the environmental history of its sponsors. According to the group, the environmentally insensitive companies sponsoring the games are launching greenwashing campaigns to reverse their image. Using animated videos, the website gets its point across in asking “Who is covering up the most environmental destruction and devastating the most communities while pretending to be a good corporate citizen by sponsoring the Olympic games?”
BP is taking a considerable amount of the heat. Just last week, the company agreed to pay a $7.8 billion settlement for claims resulting from the Deepwater Horizon leak in 2010.
Rio Tinto, also in the running for the group's greenwashing metal, has been criticized for its operations in Mongolian mines, which have roused claims of environmental harm including air pollution. The company is also facing allegations of human rights abuses in mines of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
Although all three companies have defended their operations and the measures taken to ensure environmental safety, their recent history proves otherwise. For the sponsors of the “greenest Games ever,” it's about rebuilding an image following some very deep -seeded environmentally destructive pasts.
Major move forward for UK’s nascent marine energy sector
Although the industry is small and the technologies are limited, marine-based energy systems look to be taking off as “the world’s most powerful tidal turbine” begins grid-connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre.
At around 74 metres long, the turbine single-handedly holds the potential to supply the annual electricity demand to approximately 2,000 homes within the UK and offset 2,200 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Orbital Marine Power, a privately held Scottish-based company, announced the turbine is set to operate for around 15 years in the waters surrounding Orkney, Scotland, where the 2-megawatt O2 turbine weighing around 680 metric tons will be linked to a local on-land electricity network via a subsea cable.
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Described as a “major milestone for O2” by CEO of Orbital Marine Power Andrew Scott, the turbine will also supply additional power to generate ‘green hydrogen’ through the use of a land-based electrolyser in the hopes it will demonstrate the “decarbonisation of wider energy requirements.”
“Our vision is that this project is the trigger to the harnessing of tidal stream resources around the world to play a role in tackling climate change whilst creating a new, low-carbon industrial sector,” says Scott in a statement.
The Scottish Government has awarded £3.4 million through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund to support the project’s construction, while public lenders also contributed to the financial requirements of the tidal turbine through the ethical investment platform Abundance Investment.
“The deployment of Orbital Marine Power’s O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, is a proud moment for Scotland and a significant milestone in our journey to net zero,” says Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Net-Zero, Energy and Transport for the Scottish Government.
“With our abundant natural resources, expertise and ambition, Scotland is ideally placed to harness the enormous global market for marine energy whilst helping deliver a net-zero economy.
“That’s why the Scottish Government has consistently supported the marine energy sector for over 10 years.”
However, Orbital Marine CEO Scott believes there’s potential to commercialise the technology being used in the project with the prospect of working towards more efficient and advanced marine energy projects in the future.
“We believe pioneering our vision in the UK can deliver on a broad spectrum of political initiatives across net-zero, levelling up and building back better at the same time as demonstrating global leadership in the area of low carbon innovation that is essential to creating a more sustainable future for the generations to come.”
The UK’s growing marine energy endeavours
This latest tidal turbine project isn’t a first for marine energy in the UK. The Port of London Authority permitted the River Thames to become a temporary home for trials into tidal energy technology and, more recently, a research project spanning the course of a year is set to focus on the potential tidal, wave, and floating wind technology holds for the future efficiency of renewable energy. The research is due to take place off of the Southwest coast of England on the Isles of Scilly