1. Business
February 28, 2017

Oil giant Shell knew about climate change, but chose to ignore it

Royal Dutch Shell, the Anglo-Dutch oil giant, knew about the ‘catastrophic risk’ of climate change 30 years ago but continued to invest in oil and lobbied against environmental action, The Guardian reported today.

Internal documents reveal that as early as 1986, Shell knew that oil and gas were harmful to the environment.

In 1991, the company made a 28-minute film called Climate of Concern, warning the public about the dangers of “extreme weather, floods, famines and climate refugees as fossil fuel burning warmed the world”.

The film was obtained by the online Dutch news platform De Correspondent and shared with The Guardian.

Shell continued to invest billions of dollars in highly polluting tar sand operations in Alberta, Canada and cited fracking as a “future opportunity” last year.

Shell, ExxonMobil, the world’s largest publicly traded international oil and gas company, and three oil-industry groups together spend $115m annually on advocacy designed to “obstruct” climate change policy, according to estimates released in April by Influence Map, a British nonprofit research organisation.

“Our position on climate change is well known; recognising the climate challenge and the role energy has in enabling a decent quality of life,” Shell said in a statement responding to criticism.

“Shell continues to call for effective policy to support lower carbon business and consumer choices and opportunities such as government lead carbon pricing/trading schemes.”

In 2016, Shell generated a revenue of $233.6bn.