Quantcast

#ShellKnew 30 Years Ago: Documents Reveal Predictions of Extreme Weather, Climate Lawsuits

Energy
A Shell Jet A refueler tank truck on the ramp at Vancouver International Airport. Lommer / CC BY-SA 3.0

Royal Dutch Shell has known about the links between fossil fuel use and climate change for decades, according to newly-released internal company documents.

The documents, unveiled by Dutch newspaper De Correspondent on Thursday, show that the oil giant's researchers flagged that climate change could have major implications for the fossil fuel industry as far back as the 1980s—and predicted that environmental groups could sue following damages from extreme weather.


"With the very long time scales involved, it would be tempting for society to wait until then before doing anything," one 1988 report reads. "The potential implications for the world are, however, so large that the policy options need to be considered much earlier. And the energy industry needs to consider how it should play its part."

On Wednesday, Friends of the Earth announced that it would file a lawsuit against Shell if the company does not bring its investment plan in line with Paris agreement goals within eight weeks.

As reported by Climate Liability News:

One of the documents, written in 1998, models an eerily accurate scenario of violent and damaging storms hitting the East Coast of the U.S. in 2010.

"Following the storms, a coalition of environmental NGOs brings a class-action suit against the U.S. government and fossil-fuel companies on the grounds of neglecting what scientists (including their own) have been saying for years: that something must be done," the report projects.

Bill McKibben told De Correspondent that the documents show that Shell understood the risks of climate change in the 1980s.

"Had they merely been candid with the world, we could have gotten to work then, and while global warming would not yet be 'solved,' we'd be well on the way," said McKibben.

"Instead they appear to have chosen the path of hedging, minimizing, and diverting—and given the stakes, this was both tragic and immoral. Shell knew. And now we do too."

For a deeper dive:

Documents: InsideClimate News, Climate Liability News. Lawsuit: FT, The Guardian, Climate Home

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

In this Oct. 7 handout photo from the Aracaju Municipal Press Office, workers are removing oil from Viral Beach, in Aracaju, Brazil. The spill has been polluting Brazil's beaches since early September. Aracaju Municipal Press Office / AP

More than 1,000 miles of shoreline in Brazil are now contaminated by a mysterious oil spill. that has lasted for weeks as the country struggles to clean what may be its largest oil spill in history.

Read More Show Less
Sunset with crepuscular rays over downtown Miami as seen from Miami Beach, Florida. Diana Robinson / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Youth activists rallying in front of Miami Beach's City Hall successfully campaigned for the coastal city to declare a climate emergency, the Miami Herald reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Nitrogen dioxide and nitrogen oxides, the pollutants released by diesel vehicles are a major source of air pollution in London. Jack Taylor / Stringer / Getty Images

On days where air pollution is higher, hundreds of people across nine major cities in England are suffering from more potentially fatal cardiac arrests or heading to the hospital for strokes or severe asthma attacks, according to new research from King's College in London.

Read More Show Less
A diet high in fish and vegetables can help keep your gut healthy. Linda Raymond / E+ / Getty Images

By Heather Cruickshank

Trillions of bacteria and other microbes live in the human digestive system. Together, they form a community that's known as the gut microbiota.

Many bacteria in the microbiota play important roles in human health, helping to metabolize food, strengthen intestinal integrity and protect against disease.

Read More Show Less
The message of the global movement to ban fracking and get off fossil fuels envisions a different future, one that starts with cutting off pollution at the source. cta88 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Wenonah Hauter

Donald Trump's scheduled visit to a fracking industry gathering in Pittsburgh this week is a hugely symbolic moment for the 2020 election campaign, as well as the urgent battle to contain climate catastrophe.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Animals most targeted by the fur industry include minks, foxes and rabbits. Hal Trachtenberg / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Macy's announced Monday that it will stop selling fur by 2021, The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
A young fingerling Chinook salmon leaps out of the water at Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay, California on May 16, 2018. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The Trump administration is rolling back protections for endangered California fish species, a move long sought by a group of wealthy farmers that Interior Secretary David Bernhardt continued to lobby for months before he began working for the administration, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Read More Show Less

By Gretchen Goldman

The Independent Particulate Matter Review Panel has released their consensus recommendations to the EPA administrator on the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter. The group of 20 independent experts, that were disbanded by Administrator Wheeler last October and reconvened last week, hosted by the Union of Concerned Scientists, has now made clear that the current particulate pollution standards don't protect public health and welfare.

Read More Show Less