Greenpeace has been documenting Shell’s greenwash for years, including false claims about capturing CO2 emissions and misinforming consumers about tar sands. But since BP’s oil disaster, Shell has embarked on a huge, new ad campaign bigger than its previous misleading efforts.
Shell’s “Let’s Go” campaign played out over the summer as BP’s oil was gushing and all other oil companies were trying to keep a low profile. In contrast to BP’s “Making This Right” ads, Shell was making a name for itself as a company that was thinking about the future and working tirelessly to be responsible, reduce emissions and improve efficiency.
Despite the green and secure picture Shell was painting, the company meanwhile was fighting long and hard to open up new, riskier territory to oil drilling. Shell’s the largest leaseholder in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas off the coast of Alaska and has spent billions working to open up these areas to offshore drilling.
Last week, Shell amplified its campaign efforts, launching a new, aggressive phase about drilling in the Arctic.
The New York Times called this what it is, “a public lobby campaign” aimed at pressuring the Interior Department to grant final approval for its Arctic drilling projects. According to the Times, the company is placing ads for the rest of the month in “national newspapers, liberal and conservative political magazines and media focused on Congress”.
In the ads, Shell claims to have emergency oil-spill response plans better than BP’s, including a “sub-sea containment system” and a response vessel on standby to drill a relief well. Just suppose this system did work in the spring or summer, what happens when the weather turns and the water freezes? In the remote waters of Alaska's coast, harsh weather and icy waters are the norm, the risk of blowouts is higher and response capacity smaller than in the Gulf of Mexico, and oil spill “clean up” is impossible.
Regulators should be skeptical of any response plans Shell submits. During Congressional oil spill hearings last summer, Rep. Ed Markey exposed that Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips had emergency oil-spill response plans written by the same company and nearly identical to BP’s. The plans included information on protecting walruses in the Gulf of Mexico (even though they live in the Arctic) and the name and phone number of a scientist who died years earlier as a go-to expert in the event of a spill.
The public shouldn’t be fooled by Shell’s new ad campaign and neither should the Interior Department. Shell’s legacy of misstatements provides reason to be skeptical.
Used to describe the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.