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Shell’s Eco-Friendly Fairy Tale Ends in Canada: Greenpeace Waves Magic Wand

Posted by John Donovan: 18 Jan 24

Once upon a time, Shell, the oil giant known for its love affair with the environment (wink, wink), launched an ad campaign in 2020 that was like a fairy tale. They promised the Canadian public that by buying their fossil fuels, they could magically “Drive carbon neutral” thanks to carbon offsets. It’s like saying eating more cake will help you lose weight, but only if you believe hard enough!

But here comes Greenpeace Canada, the party pooper, filing a complaint with the Competition Bureau. They were like that one kid at the party who said, “But the Emperor has no clothes!” Greenpeace pointed out that Shell’s claims were as shaky as a house of cards in a tornado. The big question: Could Shell really offset all emissions from “production through to the use of the fuel”? Spoiler alert: The evidence was as solid as a ghost.

The Competition Bureau, after getting an email nudge from Greenpeace in December 2023, was like, “Fine, we’ll investigate.” But plot twist! Shell pulled a Houdini and made all mentions of their “Drive Carbon Neutral” program disappear from their Canadian website and app, faster than you can say “carbon footprint.”

Now, Shell’s idea of carbon offsets involves tree planting and other initiatives. But they’ve been quieter than a mouse about actually proving these claims. Meanwhile, the whole carbon offset concept is getting more side-eye than a politician making promises during an election. Indigenous Peoples, scientists, and others are calling out these offsets, especially as forests, the supposed carbon saviours, are turning into barbecues thanks to hotter, dryer weather.

Despite yanking the ads in Canada, Shell hasn’t issued an apology or retraction. Because why admit you’re wrong when you can just quietly tiptoe away? And, in a move that surprises absolutely no one, they’re still pushing this program in other countries.

Shane Moffatt, head honcho of Nature and Food Campaign with Greenpeace Canada, had some choice words: “Although this is a major victory in the fight against carbon offsets and other greenwashing, Shell now has a responsibility to be transparent with the public.” He wants Shell to come clean and admit that their offsets and ads are worth about as much as a chocolate teapot.

Moffatt adds that there needs to be “much more accountability for corporations like Shell which mislead the public to promote their environmentally harmful products.” Because in the world of corporate environmental promises, it turns out Shell’s “Drive Carbon Neutral” campaign was more a fairy tale than fact. And they all lived happily ever after – except maybe the forests.

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