06 April 2018, Sweetcrude, Lagos — A new report published by Climate Files has indicated that Shell had known of the effect of its business on climate since thirty years ago.
The confidential report, “The Greenhouse Effect,” was authored by members of Shell’s Greenhouse Effect Working Group and based on a 1986 study, though the document reveals Shell was commissioning “greenhouse effect” reports as early as 1981.
The document is an in-depth study of what was at the time called global warming
A Dutch journalist, Jelmer Mommers from the De Correspondent news platform dug out the internal report prepared in 1988 and has been published in the Climate Files, http://www.climatefiles.com/shell/1988-shell-report-greenhouse/.
This showed that the company had known of the effects of fossil fuel extraction and use on the climate.
SweetcrudeReports extracted quotes from the document: https://d32r1sh890xpii.cloudfront.net/tinymce/2018-04/1522937560-op.jpg
Below is another one, complete with calculations of the contribution of the oil industry to rising CO2 levels: https://d32r1sh890xpii.cloudfront.net/tinymce/2018-04/1522937605-op2.jpg
Authors of the document then advised the oil industry to start planning how to address its contribution to climate change, and climate change early on, though not “immediately” because of the slow pace of the changes.
Further breaking down the report, OilPrice said it explained various approaches to tackling CO2 emissions, noting, however, that the consequences of rising CO2 levels are surrounded by “existing large uncertainties.” At the time, scientists were split on the significance of global warming for the world.
Among the suggestions that the authors make are reducing the use of fossil fuels and developing renewable energy sources, alongside the removal of CO2, stopping deforestation, and “energy saving”.
If the document proves authentic, the report shows that Shell knew about climate change, it knew about the significant contribution of the fossil fuels industry, and about its own personal contribution to CO2 emissions (4 percent of the global level as of 1984).
Yet, given the lack of an urgent call to action on the part of the authors, it is easily understandable why the company chose not to act immediately to address the issue—it would have required a seismic shift in its business, which no company would undertake readily.
The report’s release comes on the heels of a lawsuit threat against the company from the Dutch arm of Friends of the Earth.
Similar documents by ExxonMobil, oil trade associations and utility companies have emerged in recent years, though this Shell document is a rare, early, and concrete accounting of climate responsibility by an oil major.