New protest slaps NZ Rugby over INEOS oil deal blow to Pacific

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All Blacks INEOS oil sponsorship deal ... "high tackles our Pacific neighbours." Image: RNZ

Asia Pacific Report newsdesk

Greenpeace Aotearoa has again condemned New Zealand Rugby for its “destructive” undermining of the Pacific on climate change after an open letter by prominent New Zealanders opposing the deal with INEOS was delivered to the organisation.

The letter, organised by Kiwis in Climate, a group of New Zealanders working locally and abroad in climate and related fields, is signed by more than 100 people and is being praised by Greenpeace Aotearoa.

Signatories include businessmen Phillip Mills and Malcolm Rands, environmentalist Dame Anne Salmond, former All Blacks Bob Burgess and Chris Laidlaw, and musician Neil Finn.

Pacific countres are expected to take a strong stand at the two-week COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, starting on Monday.

COP26 GLASGOW 2021

New Zealand Rugby has been called out for deserting its own principles, which include “to be a good ancestor” and “write your own legacy”.

“At the time the deal was struck with oil and plastic polluting petrochemical giant INEOS, Greenpeace Aotearoa vehemently opposed it,” said Greenpeace campaigner Juressa Lee.

“INEOS is responsible for driving us deeper into the climate crisis, and fouling the oceans with plastic pollution.”

Grave error of judgment
“This open letter by well-known New Zealanders should indicate again to NZ Rugby that they have made a grave error of judgment in siding with INEOS. This is another reminder of how destructive this deal would be for people of the Pacific.

“The letter suggests the deal ‘high tackles our Pacific neighbours who are hit with the worst effects of climate change’, and it’s absolutely right.

“Our players are being asked to carry water for a brand that is desecrating our environment.

“I’ve often thought about our players, especially the Māori and Pasifika players, and what they might be feeling.

“The Pacific Islands are on the frontline of the climate crisis and the threat to fresh water and food security is clear and present,” Lee said.

The six-year deal with British petrochemical giant INEOS will see the All Blacks, Black Ferns, Māori All Blacks and other New Zealand rugby teams wear the Ineos logo on their shorts, and training jerseys.

At the time of the deal announcement, Greenpeace Aotearoa launched a petition to cancel the deal which now has more than 19,000 signatures.

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