monbiot grills shell’s ce

Submitted by sproutingforth on Fri, 2009-01-09 08:20

“I don’t blame Shell or van der Veer for this: they are discharging their duty to their shareholders. I do blame them for creating the impression that the company has a different agenda, and I blame governments for allowing them to drift into whatever fields they find profitable, regardless of the consequences for people or the environment.”

Leave it to George Monbiot, author of Heat, How We can Stop the Planet Burning and the Age of Consent, to tackle Shell’s chief executive, Jeroen van der Veer, about their greenwash and apparent omission of investment in alternative energy:

For a while it seemed that Shell had stopped pretending. The advertisements which filled the newspapers in 2006, featuring technicians with perfect teeth and open-necked shirts explaining how they were saving the world, vanished. After being slated by environmentalists for greenwash, after two adverse rulings by the Advertising Standards Authority, Shell appeared to have accepted the inescapable truth that it was an oil company with a minor sideline in alternative energy, and that there was no point in trying to persuade people otherwise.

The interview I conducted with its chief executive, Jeroen van der Veer, broadcast on the Guardian’s website today, contains what appears to be an interesting admission. I asked him whether Shell had now stopped producing ads extolling its investments in renewable energy. Mr van der Veer does not express himself clearly at this point, but he seems to admit that his company’s previous advertising was not honest. “If we are very big in oil and gas and we are so far relatively small in alternative energies, if you then every day only make adverts about your alternative energies and not about 90% of your other activities I don’t think that - then I say transparency, honesty to the market, that’s nonsense.” So, I asked, Shell did not intend to return to that kind of advertising? “Probably not,” he told me. “I’m very much keep your feet on the ground, tell them who you are and explain why you are who you are.”

But since the interview was filmed, Shell’s messianic tendencies appear to have resurfaced. In December the company ran a series of ads in the Guardian suggesting again that it had come to save the world. “Tackling climate change and providing fuel for a growing population seems like an impossible problem, but at Shell we try to think creatively”, one of these advertisements boasts… [monbiot.com]

It will take more than goodwill and greenwash to save the biosphere – see the video [guardian]


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