Archives for: February 2009
In Shell’s latest ad, they let us know that "[p]erfecting CCS won’t be easy, but we believe it is needed to tackle CO2 emissions."
Shell Oil Company’s parent, Royal Dutch Shell, did once own Shell Coal, before selling off its American and Australian mining operations to other companies, but now Shell is wholly concentrated on its oil and gas business. Yet on the "Real Energy" website, which advertises their alternative energy efforts with cutely animated power plants and refineries, the majority of the text is dedicated to their "carbon management" efforts. Carbon management, apparently, mostly involves the gasification of coal and then supposed capture and storage of resulting carbon dioxide emissions.
According to Shell’s website, "the CO2 from gasification [of coal] can be more easily captured than from smokestacks – potentially for storage underground." This implies that Shell, through the development of coal gasification technology, is doing its part to fight global warming—even though gasification only benefits the climate when paired with the non-existent, unfeasible CCS.
So Shell gets to license its gasification technology to China, whose coal plants have no plans to even try for carbon capture and storage installations, while earning some of the $2.4 billion alloted for CCS research in the latest stimulus package.
Appropriately, Shell’s own attempts to take "clean coal" technology a step beyond their gasification have all suffered major setbacks. Australia’s Queensland project, promoted repeatedly on their website, was recently shelved and another "clean coal" test project, worth $5 billion dollars, has been put on indefinite hold. Clearly, carbon capture and storage has already proven itself economically inefficient.
In addition, this is money that might have gone to developing true, renewable energy sources—if, that is, Shell hadn’t pulled out of solar energy years ago and more recently, withdrawn even from windfarms—though, of course, they still advertise their wind energy investments.
Shell’s greenwash hasn’t gone entirely unnoticed; a previous ad of theirs, using the same cute and cartoonish imagery, was banned by the UK’s advertising authority for misleading consumers. The ad promoted a carbon neutral company that was, at the same time, aggressively developing tar sands harvesting.
The United States also has a government body dedicated to regulating advertising; hopefully, the FTC will step in and do its job. This ad, with its deceptive "green" imagery and CCS lies, perfectly demonstrates the misleading potential of a well-executed greenwash.
If Shell really wanted to "tackle CO2 emissions," they’d stop supporting the coal industry, and instead put that money back into solar and wind energy. But that’s too much to hope for, isn’t it?
I’ll tell you why…because right now selling, producing, and investing in fossil fuels which simultaneously destroy this lovely little planet of ours is extraordinarily profitable business. But at what cost?
Exxon Mobil released its groundbreaking fourth quarter numbers for 2008. Groundbreaking all right—a whopping $45.2 billion dollar profit—blowing away their previous record of $40.6 billion…an 11% increase. Unbelievable right? Well not necessarily… just think back to July when oil was an unheard of $150/barrel. Add on top of that the billions of dollars in subsidies that we pay them (we being the taxpayer that is) and you have a recipe for mass destruction and mass profit. Cha-ching.
Despite a 70% drop in the price of oil in the fourth quarter, and with it, a 33% drop in earnings, ExxonMobil still made out like a bandit. Check out the break down—they made a profit of $123,835,616 dollars a day, $5,159,817 dollars an hour, $85,996 a minute, and if you haven’t gotten the point by now this should do it—a staggering $1,433 dollars a second! Not to shabby eh?
Needless to say, this is indeed another milestone in the world of corporate profits and yes ExxonMobil did in fact break its own previously held record—a record set in 2007 of $404 billion dollars in sales. Sales shot up to $477 billion in 2008. To put this in some perspective, in 2007, ExxonMobil’s sales exceeded the GDP of 120 countries. Well…all this money being made in the oil biz makes one pause and wonder how other parts of the energy sector are doing-- say for example-- the wind and solar industry? The short answer, not good.
In 2008 both the solar and wind industry grew—the latter substantially. The problem is, with the financial crisis and the lack of sizeable subsidies akin to the fossil fuel industry, both the solar and wind industry have already begun to significantly scale back projections and have already cut jobs. For instance, Clipper Windpower, one of only two U.S. owned turbine makers “laid off 90 employees—about 11% of its workforce” and is already seeing a “20% drop in production compared to 2008.”
Well…how about the outlook for solar? Unfortunately it’s even worse. As CNN’s Todd Woddy said back in October, “The message from Wall Street: The credit crunch will wallop big solar plant projects that need billions of dollars in financing to get built.” That pretty much sums it up.
While Exxon brings home more cash then any corporation in the history of the world during a severe economic crisis, the renewable energy sector continues to get “walloped” by the economic downturn and the continuation of the same old lackadaisical approach by government to renewable energy in America. Let’s hope things change. Lord knows, the climate sure needs some hope.
Used to describe the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.