Shell foresaw cli­mate change three decades ago

The East African - - OUTLOOK - A JOINT RE­PORT The Wash­ing­ton Post -By Steven Muf­son and Chris Mooney

A DUTCH jour­nal­ist has un­cov­ered a pile of Royal Dutch Shell doc­u­ments as old as 1988 that showed the com­pany un­der­stood the grav­ity of cli­mate change, the com­pany’s large con­tri­bu­tion to it and how hard it would be to stop it.

The oil gi­ant com­mis­sioned a 1988 re­port ti­tled The Green­house Ef­fect that cal­cu­lated that the Shell group alone was con­tribut­ing four per cent of global car­bon diox­ide emis­sions through its oil, nat­u­ral gas and coal prod­ucts. And the re­port warned that “by the time global warm­ing be­comes de­tectable it could be too late to take ef­fec­tive coun­ter­mea­sures to re­duce the ef­fects or even to sta­bilise the sit­u­a­tion.”

The 1988 re­port said that sci­en­tists be­lieved that the ef­fects would be­come de­tectable late in the 20th or early 21st cen­tury.

The doc­u­ments were found by Jelmer Mom­mers, a re­porter with De Cor­re­spon­dent. They were posted on the Cli­mate Files web­site, which is spon­sored by the Cli­mate In­ves­ti­ga­tions Cen­tre, an en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivist group.

Con­trast­ing stance

The doc­u­ments con­trast with Shell’s for­mer pub­lic stance on cli­mate change, at least for a pe­riod of time in the 1990s. The com­pany was a mem­ber of the Global Cli­mate Coali­tion, an in­dus­try group that raised doubts about the sci­ence of cli­mate change and op­posed the Ky­oto Pro­to­col.

How­ever, Shell with­drew from the group in 1998, with its then-pres­i­dent Mark Moodys­tew­art say­ing, “We re­cently met them and it was con­cluded our dif­fer­ences of opin­ion were ir­rec­on­cil­able. We will not re­new our sub­scrip­tion,” ac­cord­ing to a con­tem­po­rary press re­port. The 1988 re­port es­ti­mated that in 1981, 44 per cent of car­bon diox­ide emis­sions came from oil, 38 per cent from coal and 17 per cent from nat­u­ral gas.

On Thurs­day, Shell is­sued a state­ment about the newly re­leased re­port.

“The Shell Group’s po­si­tion on cli­mate change has been a mat­ter of pub­lic record for decades. We strongly sup­port the Paris Agree­ment and the need for so­ci­ety to tran­si­tion to a lower car­bon fu­ture, while also ex­tend­ing the eco­nomic and so­cial ben­e­fits of en­ergy to ev­ery­one,” the com­pany said. “Suc­cess­fully nav­i­gat­ing this dual chal­lenge re­quires sound gov­ern­ment pol­icy and cul­tural change to drive low-car­bon choices for busi­nesses and con­sumers. It re­quires co­op­er­a­tion be­tween all seg­ments of so­ci­ety.”

Pic­ture: File

A 1988 re­port cal­cu­lated that Shell group was con­tribut­ing four per cent of global car­bon diox­ide emis­sions then.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kenya

© PressReader. All rights reserved.