Tobacco companies can’t sponsor Australian arts. Should fossil fuel giants be banned too?

Image: Vote Earth Now mashup with Photograph: Duane Preston/Darwin Festival

Fired Up – from Fossil Ad Ban

How deep do the fossil fuel funds flow? Straight to the heart of Australia’s most prestigious journalism awards.

The Walkley Awards were actually started by Ampol.

Here’s a photo from the inaugural awards in 1956 featuring Managing Director of Ampol, William Gaston Walkley.

In the fifties not much was known about petroleum’s devastating effects on health, the environment and climate but these days the media knows better, right?Wrong. The Walkley’s is again sponsored by Ampol and they even commissioned this glowing greenwashed article about their shared history with petrol. Ampol loves it so much they’ve got it on their website too.

Why is this wrong?
The sponsorship allows Ampol to pretend that it is part of the solution to climate change. The Walkley’s article even gives the CEO a platform to position the company as part of the future energy mix and champion independent media. The media is clearly not independent of private influence when they accept sponsorship dollars.

“The role that governments will need to play – and companies – in shaping what society is going to look like over the next 10, 20, 30 years, you need to have a very independent and capable media to … arbitrate that debate effectively.”
Matthew Halliday
Ampol CEO
    • Ampol is an oil refiner and distributor whose demand forecasts are not compatible with the Paris goals. This means their future profits are dependent on refining and selling more petrol.
    • Ampol is currently spending $160 million on rebranding with a campaign that ignores their polluting products and attempts to build an emotional connection with their brand to boost sales.
    • Ampol is currently selling ‘carbon neutral’ petrol and diesel – the marketing of which pretends that the products have no effect on the climate and use concerning carbon offset claims.
    • Ampol is one of the top 100 carbon polluters in Australia – not including the petrol it sells to customers (scope 3 emissions).
    • Ampol’s ‘net zero’ plans do not include the emissions from its products (scope 3)



In October, oil giant Santos cut ties with Darwin festival after the festival was offered $200,000 to drop Santos by a coalition of philanthropists, artists and First Nations representatives.
In October, Santos cut ties with Darwin festival after the festival was offered $200,000 by a coalition of philanthropists, artists and First Nations representatives to drop the oil giant sponsorship. Photograph: Duane Preston/Darwin Festival

A database shows almost two dozen arts organisations are still reliant on mining money – but some are hunting for alternatives

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