Shell rebuked for greenwashing

This video from Canada is called Effects of the Tar Sands: Fort Mackay, Alberta.

From British daily The Independent:

Shell rebuked for ‘greenwash’ over ad for polluting oil project

By Martin Hickman, Consumer Affairs Correspondent

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

The Anglo-Dutch energy giant Shell misled the public about the green credentials of a vastly polluting oil project in Canada, in an attempt to assure consumers of its good environmental record, a media watchdog will rule today.

In an embarrassing rejection of Shell’s “greenwash”, the Advertising Standards Authority said the company should not have used the word “sustainable” for its controversial tar sands project and a second scheme to build North America’s biggest oil refinery. Both projects would lead to the emission of more greenhouse gases, the ASA said, ruling the advert had breached rules on substantiation, truthfulness and environmental claims.

Carried by the Financial Times on 1 February to accompany Shell’s financial results, the company claimed: “We invest today’s profits in tomorrow’s solutions.”

The advert continued: “A growing world needs more energy, but at the same time we need to find new ways of managing carbon emissions to limit climate change. Continued investment in technology is one of the key ways we are able to address this challenge, and continue to secure a profitable and sustainable future.”

Shell explained it was harnessing its technical expertise “to unlock the potential of the vast Canadian oil sands deposits”.

The WWF (formerly the Worldwide Fund for Nature) complained that extracting low-grade bitumen from sand was highly inefficient and destroyed huge tracts of virgin forest. In its defence, Shell maintained that new technology was reducing pollution from the Athabasca Oil Sands Project in Alberta in which it owns a 60 per cent stake.

Shell quoted a critical WWF report as rating its Muskeg River Mine one of the least damaging coal-tar sands projects because it sought to limit emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide and organic compounds.

Making its ruling, the ASA quoted Canada’s independent National Energy Board that oil sand developments had considerable social and economic impacts on water conservation, greenhouse gas emissions, land disturbance and waste management.

David Norman, the WWF’s director of campaigns, said: “The ASA’s decision to uphold WWF’s complaint sends a strong signal to business and industry that greenwash is unacceptable.”

Capturing and storing some of the carbon that would be released in the processing of Canada’s tar sands may not clean the industry up. To turn the vast but dirty resource into useable oil, Canada will have to spew vast amounts of greenhouse gases: here.

Watch WWF’s anti-Shell ad video: here.

BP shuts alternative energy HQ: here.

10 thoughts on “Shell rebuked for greenwashing

  1. Sustainable capitalism?

    By David Travis

    September 9, 2008 — On the fringe of the green movement, one always
    hears the following phrases coming from the mainstream with great
    regularity: “green capitalism”, “sustainable capitalism”, “social
    entrepreneurs”, “green entrepreneurs”, etc. None of these terms tend to
    mean anything specific, and no one who uses them is in a great hurry to
    spell out, for example, how a green entrepreneur is different in any
    fundamental way from some other kind of entrepreneur, or how capitalism
    could be driven toward sustainability rather than profit. So you can
    imagine my pleasure at meeting the author of a book called Sustainable
    Capitalism: A Matter of Common Sense.

    * Read more


  2. Nestle water ads misleading: Canada green groups

    Mon Dec 1, 2008 2:11pm EST

    By Scott Anderson

    TORONTO (Reuters) – Canadian environmental groups have filed a misleading advertising complaint against Nestle disputing claims in an ad by the world’s largest food company that its bottled water has numerous ecological benefits.

    A group comprising Friends of the Earth Canada, the Polaris Institute, the Council of Canadians, Wellington Water Watchers and Ecojustice said Nestle Waters Canada contravened the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards “by making false and misleading statements regarding the environmental impacts of its product” in full-page newspaper ad in October.

    “They can spin the bottle all they want, but the truth is there is no green solution to bottled water,” said Joe Cressy, Campaigns Coordinator, for the Polaris Institute, in Ottawa.

    The groups also allege the ad — which said “most water bottles avoid landfill sites and are recycled”; “bottled water is the most environmentally responsible consumer product in the world”; and “Nestle Pure Life is a Healthy, Eco-Friendly Choice” — is contrary to guidelines that have been set by Canada’s Competition Bureau and the Canadian Standards Association.

    John Challinor, a spokesman for Nestle Waters Canada, said his company looks forward to proving the accuracy of its claims.

    “We welcome the opportunity to show that we have, in fact, been honest in our conversation with Canadians, with the media and with government of the environmental stewardship exercised by our industry,” Challinor said.

    But Hugh Wilkins, staff lawyer at Ecojustice Canada, formerly Sierra Legal Defense Fund, said they asked Advertising Standards Canada to review the ad to determine whether it meets the requirements of the advertising code.

    Wilkins said the advertisement does not back up the company’s claims about its recycling activity and the amount of the bottles recycled.

    “This is part of a bigger problem of what we call ‘green washing,'” Wilkins said. “This is that producers are saying that they are doing things in an environmentally sensitive manner when the facts, on occasion, don’t support it.”

    The coalition’s move comes as city council in Toronto, Canada’s biggest city, debates on Monday a city-wide ban on bottled water. The current motion would not only ban bottled water, but also commit the city to ensuring adequate access to tap water in all city facilities by December 31, 2011.

    Canadian cities including London, Ontario; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; St. John’s, Newfoundland; Altona, Manitoba; and Metro Vancouver, British Columbia have passed restrictions on bottled water.

    ($1=$1.24 Canadian)

    (Editing by Jeffrey Jones)

    © Thomson Reuters 2008


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