Fossil fuel industry extracts a rugby stadium full of oil every 3 hours 37 minutes – Greenpeace France calls out Big Oil sponsorship at Rugby World Cup

A YouTube link to the video can be found here

Paris – The global fossil fuel industry extracts enough oil to fill a rugby stadium every 3 hours and 37 minutes, according to a powerful new animated video released today by Greenpeace France.[1] 

Together with production company Studio Birthplace, represented by Park Village in the UK, Greenpeace France created the video to campaign against fossil fuel sponsorship of major sporting events like the Rugby World Cup 2023, which this year is sponsored by French fossil fuel giant TotalEnergies.[2][3] 

Edina Ifticene, Campaigner at Greenpeace France, said: “Integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline and respect – those are rugby values. But fossil fuel companies like TotalEnergies piggyback those values by sponsoring popular sports events like the Rugby World Cup, to distract everyone from their climate destruction. Meanwhile, fossil fuel companies won’t stop extracting fossil fuels – even though they know it’s jeopardising a livable future for us all – because they like the record-breaking profits they’re making.” 

But the Rugby World Cup Limited tried to block the release of the video with a cease and desist letter sent to Greenpeace International on Tuesday 29 August – the day before the video is due to go public.

In response, Ifticene said: “The Rugby World Cup has sent Greenpeace International a legal letter to try to force it not to publish our video. But we won’t be silenced. Fossil fuel companies like TotalEnergies sponsor events like the Rugby World Cup to distract everyone from their climate destruction. The fossil-fuelled climate crisis has already started to negatively impact rugby itself: a typhoon disrupted the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, and major Pacific Island rugby nations are threatened by rising sea levels. And some of France’s host cities have decided to keep TotalEnergies out of their fan zones. Everyone is waking up to the fact that there is no place for fossil fuels, not in rugby, or anywhere else. We will not be stopped from calling out the truth and will release the video.”

The animated 60-second film, ‘TotalPollution: A Dirty Game’, digitally fills up the Stade De France – the stadium in Paris where the first match between France and the New Zealand All Blacks will take place on 8 September – with the amount of crude oil that the global fossil fuel industry collectively produces in three hours and 37 minutes. That’s more than six and a half stadiums worth of oil every 24 hours.[4]

The video features voice-overs from Irish comedian and actor Seán Burke and French comedian and radio columnist Guillaume Meurice.[5][6] In slapstick fashion, the animated video shows oil spilling out of TotalEnergies logos dotted around the stadium, knocking over the rugby players and fans in their seats, who are represented by mannequins. The last 10 seconds of the video features footage of real climate destruction caused both directly and indirectly by the fossil fuel industry. 

TotalEnergies’ Chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanné said when the sponsorship was announced: “Integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline and respect are key features of this sport, and they match our company’s values […] more importantly, rugby is organised first and foremost around a team, just like TotalEnergies: a collective of women and men committed to the energy transition.”[7] 

But it’s not the case that fossil fuel companies are genuinely committed to shifting to renewable energy; a Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe report released last week, which analysed the 2022 annual reports of six global fossil fuel majors and six European oil and gas companies, revealed that a minuscule 0.3% of their combined energy production came from renewable power. According to the report, 99% of TotalEnergies’ energy production last year came from fossil fuels, meaning only 1% came from genuinely renewable sources. These sponsorships are a strategic pillar in the oil and gas majors plans to, not just continue with its operations, but also to expand them despite the climate crisis.[8] 

Edina Ifticene continued: “We want a complete ban on fossil fuel advertising and sponsorship of major sporting events. It benefits no one but fossil fuel companies, and deliberately distracts everyone from the environmental destruction they cause and the communities they harm. For a safer and fairer world, we must end the fossil fuel era, starting with climate-wrecking new fossil fuel projects, before it’s too late.”

Seán Burke, Irish comedian and actor who narrated the English version of the video, said: “We’re way past the point where sponsorship by fossil fuel companies should be acceptable. Their cute graphics and friendly animations are just a calculated attempt to maintain the status quo and extend a deadline that ran out years ago. Make no mistake, the temperature rising is fine by them as long as the profits do too.”

Emma Pocock, CEO of FrontRunners, an Australian sports climate campaigning organisation, said: “We know sport needs the support of sponsors, but as we see climate disasters unfolding across the world, affecting the communities and the sports we love, it’s time to rethink these kinds of arrangements. Companies that aren’t committed to building a safe future shouldn’t have a place in our sporting landscape.” 

Film directors Jorik Dozy and Sil van der Woerd from Studio Birthplace said: “By making this film, we wanted to shine a light on the tremendous scale of global crude oil production, and expose the worrying rate at which we are continuing to fuel our climate crisis. We’re all in the middle of a climate emergency, so it’s essential to keep telling stories about the insidiousness of fossil fuels – and how they are ruining the planet for everyone.”


The English version of the video will be available on the Greenpeace International YouTube channel. This video will go public at 00:01 on Wednesday 30 August. The French version will be available on the Greenpeace France YouTube channel when the embargo lifts. 


[1] How Studio Birthplace worked out the Stade De France dimensions

[2] The Rugby World Cup will take place in France from 8 September to 28 October 2023. The number of people tuning in this year is expected to be huge, after more than 857 million people tuned in to watch the RWC 2019 in Japan – the most watched rugby event ever. 

[3] Studio Birthplace, founded in 2019, is a creative studio telling Earth’s most urgent stories and uniting a global community to inspire change towards a just, healthy world. Unearthing the untold, the studio creates iconic, concept-driven content delivering captivating and impactful experiences that raise awareness, ignite hearts, and provoke change. Previously, Studio Birthplace produced the viral film Wasteminster: A Downing Street Disaster, co-produced by Production Partner Park Village, for Greenpeace UK.







For information about the campaign and interviews in English, contact: Jasmine Watkiss, International Media Coordinator, Greenpeace UK: +44 7796 947448, [email protected] 

For information and interviews in French, contact: Guillaumine Lickel, Communications Officer, Greenpeace France: +33 6 73 89 48 90, [email protected] 

Greenpeace International Press Desk: [email protected], +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours). For the latest international releases follow us on Twitter @greenpeacepress

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