Shell – nominated for failing to live up to its own green spin

The oil company Shell was nominated for making misleading claims about its action to tackle climate change while withdrawing investments from renewable energy supplies.

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In 2007 oil giant Shell was ordered to withdraw misleading advertisements in Europe after it was accused of greenwash. Shell may have cleaned up its advertising, but it continues to mislead the public about what it is doing to tackle climate change.

Royal Dutch Shell is a member of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development, one of the convenors behind the Copenhagen Business Summit. It has long boasted of its commitment to sustainable development and recognised the need to tackle climate change. But despite its claims, Shell has pulled its investment in renewable energy, ditching its solar business in 2007 and pulling out of all renewables in 2009.

Shell now talks about delivering “responsible energy”. This includes dredging for tar sands in Canada - even though Shell admits this produces 15% more CO2 than crude oil. It also has a devastating impact on the environment.

Shell’s responsible approach also allows flaring gas in Nigeria, despite court rulings ordering the company to stop. Shell’s activities in the Niger Delta have devastated the local environment. Flaring gas - the practice of burning off the gas found alongside the oil - is the largest source of CO2 emissions in sub-Saharan Africa. The gas could be captured for local use, but instead it is burnt, destroying the climate and damaging local people’s health.

Shell also invests in agrofuels, including research in second generation technologies that it claims “do not compete with food crops” - although most second generation fuel sources do require vast areas of land. Shell currently markets ethanol made from wheat and sugar cane, contributing to rising food prices. Shell has diverted investments in wind and solar to agrofuels.

In 2008, Shell emitted 75 million tonnes of greenhouse gas (CO2 equivalent) - and aims to cut emissions by just 5% by 2010.

Shell actively lobbies through International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) and EUROPIA to minimise the costs of emissions trading,  by blocking moves to auction permits for refineries under the Emissions Trading Scheme. Shell’s chief executive chairs the Energy and Climate Change Working Group of the European Roundtable of Industrialists.



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