TORONTO – Two years after filing a complaint with the Competition Bureau alleging Shell’s “Drive carbon neutral” advertising misled the public, Greenpeace Canada is today claiming victory for the oil giant removing the advertising from its Canadian platforms.
The Bureau confirmed by email to Greenpeace Canada in December 2023 for the first time that it had in fact started an investigation into the company’s advertising, but that it was closing the investigation because Shell had removed all representations regarding its “Drive Carbon Neutral” program from its Canadian website and app.
In its advertisement launched in 2020, Shell encouraged the public to buy its fossil fuel products by claiming it could use carbon offsets to “cover all emissions from the production through to the use of the fuel”.
However, Greenpeace Canada’s complaint to the Bureau raised questions over the veracity of the company’s advertisement. These included a lack of evidence that Shell could wholly offset emissions from the company’s fossil fuels and major shortcomings with its carbon offsets scheme.
Relying on tree planting and other initiatives to offset fuel emissions, Shell has yet to fully substantiate its claims to the public. Globally, the company has quietly walked back its earlier plans to invest heavily in carbon offsets.
This development comes as criticism of carbon offsets from Indigenous Peoples, scientists and others continue to grow. Hotter, dryer weather is causing forest offsets to literally go up in smoke. Logging and other industrial disturbances in the Canadian boreal are also undermining the forest’s ability to absorb and store carbon, according to a groundbreaking recent study.
Despite removing the advertisement, to date, Shell has not yet issued any retraction or apologized to the Canadian public. Further, Shell still advertises the program in other countries.
Head of Nature and Food Campaign with Greenpeace Canada Shane Moffatt said:
“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. Through this false climate advertising, for years the company has been duping people into buying their products. The company should now issue an official retraction and admit these offsets and advertisements aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.
In light of the growing use of greenwash, it’s clear there needs to be much more accountability for corporations like Shell which mislead the public to promote their environmentally harmful products.”
Note to editors:
- The Competition Bureau’s December 14, 2023 letter to Greenpeace Canada regarding the complaint can be found here.
- The full complaint can be accessed here;
- The media backgrounder is available here;
- Our submission to the federal government’s Strategic Assessment of Climate Change is here
- Blog post Protecting forests, planting trees and fighting climate change – separating fact from fiction can be read here.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Dina Ni, Communications Officer, Greenpeace Canada
[email protected]; +1 (416) 820-2148