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ENERGY: Governments Must Lead on Renewables, says Shell CEO

IPSNEWS.NET 

By Rahul Kumar*

BARCELONA, Oct 7 (IPS/Terraviva) – Royal Dutch Shell, which makes more than 310 billion dollars profit a year extracting oil and gas, mainly in third world countries, says it is up to governments rather than companies like Shell to take the lead in finding solutions for a sustainable energy future.

Shell CEO Jeroen Van der Veer told IPS in an interview at the IUCN World Conservation Congress that if governments wanted to fast-track the creation of sustainable energy, they must come up with long-term global standards to attract money into research. 

The Anglo-Dutch group has spent the last 10 years trying to clean up its image and demonstrate a commitment to corporate social responsibility. It has invested in bio-fuel innovations, but the bulk of its cash goes into new exploration for oil and gas. 

Van der Veer says this is still the company’s biggest business. “There will never be an ideal solution for energy conservation as the world still needs a lot of energy, and whichever way you look at it, energy leaves a carbon footprint.”

Curiously, the oil company is one of the major sponsors of the IUCN World Conservation Congress that has major participation from civil society organisations — the biggest critics of energy companies. And they have often singled Shell out for scathing attack. 

The criticism has been over a number of Shell operations in South Africa and Nigeria, notably in relation to protests of the Ogoni, an indigenous group in the Niger Delta region of southeast Nigeria. Civil society was also active in its support for Ogoni journalist Ken Saro-Wiwa, who campaigned against what he viewed as Shell’s destruction of his tribe’s homeland. Ken Saro-Wiwa was executed by the military regime in Nigeria in 1995 on what was widely condemned as a false murder charge. 

Van der Veer says his company’s support for the congress seeks to demonstrate his company’s standing as a socially responsible entity concerned about renewable energy and environmental protection. “Even in the midst of the tensions with NGOs we want to show that responsibility is not just a catchphrase for us, and want NGOs to be our witness as we work towards the expectations of societies.” 

But can companies like Shell whose survival and profits depend on gas and oil extraction have the heart to seek renewable sources of energy that could mean a loss of their core business? Van der Veer sidestepped the question by listing a host of measures and activities that Shell has embarked on to promote energy efficiency and conservation. 

Van der Veer says no matter what Shell does, because of the sheer size of its operations it is bound to leave a carbon footprint and make mistakes, like oil spills. While this was inevitable, the company has strict and exhaustive safety standards of operation, he said. 

Van der Veer said the media has prejudiced people against Shell. “When there is an oil spill in Shell it is front page news, but not when it happens other industries.” (END/2008) 

To view Interview with Jeroen Van der Veer CEO of Shell Corporation go to….

http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=44151

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