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Shell’s New Carbon Capture Schemes: Greenwashing or Genuine Effort?

Posted by John Donovan: 26 June 2024

Shell is at it again. This time, the oil behemoth has decided to bless Canada with not one, but two carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects. Bravo, Shell! Because nothing screams “environmental savior” like a company that has spent decades polluting the planet.

On June 26, Shell’s Canadian unit announced its grand plan to build these CCS projects in a valiant effort to reduce emissions from its own operations. The projects, named Polaris and Atlas Carbon Storage Hub, sound like something out of a superhero comic. Unfortunately, the reality is less heroic.

Polaris, located in Scotford, aims to capture about 650,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. Meanwhile, Atlas, developed in partnership with ATCO EnPower, will store this carbon dioxide underground. Shell proudly states that the first phase of Atlas will provide permanent storage for CO2 captured by Polaris.

Now, let’s put on our skeptic hats for a moment. These projects are set to begin operations towards the end of 2028. That’s a good four years away—plenty of time for Shell to tweak, delay, or even abandon the projects if they feel like it. Financial details? Oh, they didn’t disclose any. How convenient.

And here’s the kicker: while Shell is busy patting itself on the back for its “commitment” to tackling climate change, the workers at Shell’s Scotford refinery are gearing up for a potential strike over compensation issues. Because nothing says “we care about the future” like ignoring the present concerns of your workforce.

But hey, let’s give credit where it’s due. CCS technologies are indeed crucial for decarbonization. However, one can’t help but wonder if this is just another episode of Shell’s greenwashing saga. After all, how seriously can you take a climate commitment from a company that continues to rake in profits from fossil fuels?

So, here’s to Shell and their shiny new projects. May they be more than just PR stunts and actually contribute to a greener future. But forgive us if we don’t hold our breath.

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