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Governments urged to act after oil giants accused of misleading public

The Guardian

Governments urged to act after oil giants accused of misleading public

Documents suggest Shell and BP staff privately downplayed public commitments on climate crisis

Alex Lawson Energy correspondent: Fri 16 Sep 2022 16.42 BST

Campaigners have urged governments to intervene after oil companies were accused of misleading the public about their commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

Oil and gas companies including Britain’s Shell and BP were urged to “stop their deception” this week as the US House committee on oversight and reform released documents showing that oil industry executives privately downplayed their public messages on efforts to tackle the climate crisis.

The memo claimed that internal BP documents highlighted how carbon capture and storage (CCS) – a nascent technology that involves inserting CO2 emissions into underground rock formations – could “enable the full use of fossil fuels across the energy transition and beyond”.

Congressional investigators also unearthed an internal Shell email discussing carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) in which an executive said: “We want to be careful to not talk about CCUS as prolonging the life of oil, gas or fossil fuels writ large.”

The committee said internal Shell messaging guidance – developed to “insulate Shell” from lawsuits about “greenwashing” and “misleading investors” on the climate crisis – calls on employees to emphasise that net zero emissions is “a collective ambition for the world” rather than a “Shell goal or target”.

The guidance tells employees: “Please do not give the impression that Shell is willing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to levels that do not make business sense.”

Shell lost a landmark ruling in the Dutch courts last year, when a judge ordered it to cut its global carbon emissions by 45% by the end of 2030 compared with 2019 levels. Campaigners hope the incoming chief executive, Wael Sawan, whose appointment was announced on Thursday, can increase the company’s investment in green energy.

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