By Camille Aubin
One of the five biggest companies on the planet, one of the biggest oil companies in the world, and one who recorded revenues of nearly $400 billion U.S. in 2018: This brilliant yellow shell that sells you gasoline now asks us, citizens, to do our part. The company is trying to lecture the oil industry to recognize the importance of putting a carbon price. Astonishing!
At the beginning of November, Shell tweeted, “What are you willing to change to help reduce emissions? #EnergyDebate”. The response from several climate activists, such as Greta Thunberg, reminds the group that they knew they were “destroying future living conditions for countless generations for profit and then trying to distract people and prevent real systemic change through endless greenwash campaigns”.
Shell Canada, one of the biggest manufacturers of petroleum products, has introduced a new program that allows consumers who refuel their vehicles at Shell’s 1,400 service stations across Canada to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The program offered by Shell through their self-paying service will be free until the end of December. Those wishing to continue the initiative can contribute at a rate of two cents per litre once the initiative reaches its end.
Why would Shell do this? Is it pure greenwashing or true environmental awareness? There are several reasons behind the company’s actions. First, let’s stop sticking our heads in the sand, it’s to position themselves among the most avant-garde companies in its sector. Shell must serve its interests to the best of its ability, both financially and politically. The company clearly feels it needs to position itself now regarding carbon pricing, since this will undoubtedly be an increasingly prominent issue in the coming years. Shell Canada is well aware of this. The company is represented by a member on the current Climate Solutions Advisory Council that B.C. government has established.
Is Shell Canada’s action better than nothing? Perhaps. It is ironic that an oil company, whose actions contribute to climate change, has the audacity to ask its customers to decrease their emissions and act as a result. Shell should consider the consequences of oil companies on the environment, and ask themselves who’s partially responsible for that, rather than asking others to take actions for them.