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Shell Caught in a Green Masquerade, Claims “We’re Totally Eco-Friendly, Trust Us!”

Posted by John Donovan: 16 Feb 24

In a shocking turn of events, Shell, the global beacon of environmental responsibility (pause for eye-roll), finds itself at the centre of what can only be described as a greenwashing scandal so brazen it could make an oil slick blush.

On the first of February, 2023, the heroes at Global Witness, an NGO with apparently nothing better to do than save the planet, lobbed a “groundbreaking greenwashing complaint” into the lap of the SEC’s Climate and ESG Task Force. Their mission? To beg the question: Is Shell’s so-called investment in renewables as genuine as a three-dollar bill?

Global Witness dares to suggest that Shell might be pulling a fast one on its investors by inflating its green credentials. You see, Shell has this fancy-sounding “Renewables and Energy Solutions” (RES) segment that includes, among other things, their forays into hydrogen, nature, and whatever “integrated power activities” are supposed to be. Sounds impressive, right? Well, hold your carbon offsets, because Global Witness is calling BS.

According to these party poopers, Shell’s RES segment is about as “renewable” as a coal mine. They claim a “significant portion” of Shell’s spending on RES is actually funnelled into marketing and trading “natural gas” and gas-generated power. And here’s the kicker: they argue that gas, contrary to Shell’s insinuations, is neither renewable nor a solution to our energy woes. I mean, who knew?

Global Witness, in their quest to spoil the fossil fuel fiesta, points out two possible no-nos in Shell’s RES antics. First off, lumping renewable and gas-related activities together might not jive with International Financial Reporting Standards. Who would’ve thought that accounting standards require clarity and honesty? Secondly, they argue that Shell’s RES disclosures are as clear as mud, potentially misleading investors about the company’s march towards renewable energy. Apparently, while Shell boasted a 12% capital expenditure on RES in 2021, only a measly 1.5% was actually spent on things that won’t fry the planet, like wind and solar.

Global Witness’s complaint suggests Shell’s RES segment is like putting lipstick on a pig, making it seem like they’re cutting back on fossil fuels when in reality, they’re doubling down on gas. They fear this could “obscure” the “large and growing role that gas plays in Shell’s portfolio.”

But fear not, Shell has come out swinging, stating they are “confident” their financial disclosures could pass a polygraph test. They insist they’re “fully compliant with all SEC and other reporting requirements,” which is corporate for “move along, nothing to see here.”

So, as Shell wraps itself in the green flag, one has to wonder: is their version of renewable energy just a gas, gas, gas? Stay tuned as this eco-drama unfolds, and remember, in the world of big oil, it’s not easy being green—especially when green looks suspiciously like the same old black gold.

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