Shell’s not afraid to greenwash

by Claudette

December 21, 2009

Though shell has been punished twice in recent years for greenwashing in the British media (here and here), the company seems to have little concern about greenwashing in American media. Check out the ad it has been running frequently in all the most influential papers and magazines, including the Economist and Washington Post on a regular basis.

shell calculator ad

You would think that Shell would learn from mistakes in the past. Last year, Shell was told to stop using the ad to the right in the UK. The text says:uk shell ad


… we need to find new ways of managing carbon emissions to limit climate change. Continued investment in technology is one of the key ways we are able to address this challenge, and continue to secure a profitable and sustainable future.

The challenge of the 21st century is to meet the growing need for energy in ways that are not only profitable but sustainable… In Canada we’re harnessing our global network of technical and financial expertise to unlock the potential of the vast Canadian oil sands deposit. In the USA we’re helping to build what will be the nation’s largest refinery.

The UK Advertising Standards Authority disapproved of the ad:

We noted that the large scale of the oil sands developments had considerable social and environmental impacts, including those on water conservation, greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), land disturbance and waste management.

“Because we had not seen data that showed how Shell was effectively managing carbon emissions from its oil sands projects in order to limit climate change, we concluded that on this point the ad was misleading.

The ASA concluded that the ad must not appear again in its current form.

But despite this lesson, Shell apparently has no qualms about making similar misleading claims in the US, for example the less CO2 claim depicted above.

Shell also has no problem contributing funding to a large-scale anti-climate legislation campaign being run by the American Petroleum Institute. That campaign was not only caught astroturfing, but also uses scare tactics and misleading, biased information to make the public and policy makers believe that climate legislation would kill jobs or drastically rise gas prices. For example, the API ad below is featured in many of the same media outlets as Shell greenwash ads.

API jobs ad


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