Shell has a big
impact on our lives: our economy runs on the oil and gas that Shell
pumps up. But in addition to earthquakes in Groningen in the
Netherlands and oil pollution in Nigeria, global warming is a serious
consequence. In order to prevent dangerous climate change and
disruption, we need to stop using fossil fuels as soon as possible.
Shell plays a big part in this transition. The company acknowledges
the need to protect the climate, but what is the real story on Shell
and climate change?
By 1968, Shell
already knew that fossil fuels had major consequences for the
environment. In that year, Shell researchers warned in an internal
report of ‘speedy and drastic changes’ to the climate, with
‘potentially major social, economic and political consequences’.
The researchers considered it possible that ‘the environment could
be so impacted that some parts of the world would become
forcefully about the necessity of an energy transition. But does it
turn those words into action? Shell says that managing the CO2
emissions of coal, oil and natural gas is crucial to addressing
climate change and that a sweeping energy transition is inevitable.
The company acknowledges that a large portion of proven oil and gas
reserves must remain in the ground if the earth’s temperature is to
remain under the 2 degree Celsius limit, and it calls for cooperation
to achieve the ambitions of the Paris Climate Agreement.
On the surface, most
people increasingly see the responsible face of a company that is
conscious of its important role in society and that says that it
takes its responsibility seriously. But in reality, Shell is
investing – as we speak – billions of euros in shale gas, natural
gas and deep sea drilling – its investments in renewable energy are
miniscule in comparison. Shell thus actually has two faces.