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Shell’s Ghostly Carbon Credits: Spooky Scandal or Just Another Day in Big Oil’s Playbook?

Posted by John Donovan: 14 May 2024

Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, to witness the astonishing spectacle of Shell’s latest performance in the carbon credit circus—featuring their star act, the “Phantom Carbon Credits!” That’s right, Shell has once again slipped into the role of the environmental illusionist, trading in what turns out to be absolutely zilch in the real world of CO2 reduction. Let’s give them a round of disbelief, shall we?

Nestled in the heart of Alberta, Canada, Shell’s Quest carbon capture facility became the unlikely star of a scandal where they apparently conjured up double the carbon credits they were supposed to. Yes, you heard that right—like a bad magician pulling fake rabbits out of a hat, from 2015 to 2021, Shell pulled out 5.7 million credits that, oops, didn’t quite match the actual CO2 reductions.

You see, under Alberta’s subsidy scheme, which sounds more like a coupon book for pollution than an environmental plan, Shell got to claim twice as many emissions saved as really happened. This was so successful that they even got a subsidy for these imaginative calculations until someone realized that maybe paying for double the magic wasn’t a great idea, and the scheme was phased out in 2022.

Keith Stewart from Greenpeace Canada didn’t mince words, condemning these “phantom credits” because, surprise surprise, making things up doesn’t actually help the climate. Shell, meanwhile, played the role of the misunderstood hero, defending their carbon capture fantasy by saying it’s all part of their grand plan to decarbonize industries. They assured everyone that these imaginary credits were just for in-house use in Alberta and not sold to external buyers—because that makes it better, right?

This whole debacle raises the curtain on the not-so-magical world of carbon credits, where the integrity of the carbon market is now as transparent as a ghost. Investors are left holding their wallets a little tighter, wondering if carbon credits are just another trick in the fossil fuel industry’s repertoire.

So, what’s the moral of this ghost story? When the oversight is as lax as a sleepy security guard and the credits as real as unicorns, maybe, just maybe, it’s time to rethink how we’re fighting climate change. Because if we keep letting these carbon capers slide, the only thing we’ll be capturing is a whole lot of hot air. Shell, take a bow—this might just be your most transparent act yet!

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