Quantcast

What Shell Knew About Climate Change in 1991

Climate

By Nadia Prupis

Oil giant Shell also knew of the dangers of climate change decades ago, while it continued to lobby against climate legislation and push for fossil fuel development, a joint investigation by The Guardian and the Dutch newspaper The Correspondent revealed Tuesday.


Shell created a confidential report in 1986 which found that the changes brought about by global warming could be "the greatest in recorded history" and warned of an impact "on the human environment, future living standards and food supplies, [that] could have major social, economic and political consequences."

The company also made a 28-minute educational film in 1991, Climate of Concern, that warned oil extraction and use could lead to extreme weather, famines and mass displacement, and noted that the dangers of climate change were "endorsed by a uniquely broad consensus of scientists." The film was developed for public viewing, particularly for schools.

"Our energy consuming way of life may be causing climatic changes with adverse consequences for us all," the video states.

"If the weather machine were to be wound up to such new levels of energy, no country would remain unaffected," it continues. "Global warming is not yet certain, but many think that to wait for final proof would be irresponsible. Action now is seen as the only safe insurance."

Despite its own warnings, Shell invested billions of dollars into tar sands operations and exploration in the Arctic. It has also devoted millions to lobbying against climate legislation.

The revelations about Shell come after a separate investigation into ExxonMobil revealed that company had also been waging a climate science suppression campaign and burying its own reports on the global warming impacts of fossil fuel use for decades. Exxon, whose former CEO is now U.S. secretary of state, is currently under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and state attorneys general for allegedly lying to investors about the risks of climate change.

In 2016, a group of lawmakers asked the Department of Justice to look into Shell's knowledge of global warming as well.

"They knew. Shell told the public the truth about climate change in 1991 and they clearly never got round to telling their own board of directors," Tom Burke of the green think-tank E3G, told the Guardian on Tuesday. "Shell's behavior now is risky for the climate but it is also risky for their shareholders. It is very difficult to explain why they are continuing to explore and develop high-cost reserves."

Bill McKibben, co-founder of the environmental advocacy group 350.org, added:

The fact that Shell understood all this in 1991 and that a quarter-century later it was trying to open up the Arctic to oil-drilling, tells you all you'll ever need to know about the corporate ethic of the fossil fuel industry. Shell made a big difference in the world—a difference for the worse.

Patricia Espinosa, the United Nations' climate change chief, said action by fossil fuel companies is critical to combating climate change.

"They are a big part of the global economy, so if we do not get them on board, we will not be able to achieve this transformation of the economy we need," she said.

Watch the entire film here:

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Milk made from almonds, oats and coconut are among the healthiest alternatives to cow's milk. triocean / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Dairy aisles have exploded with milk and milk alternative options over the past few years, and choosing the healthiest milk isn't just about the fat content.

Whether you're looking beyond cow's milk for health reasons or dietary preferences or simply want to experiment with different options, you may wonder which type of milk is healthiest for you.

Read More Show Less
Greta Thunberg stands aboard the catamaran La Vagabonde as she sets sail to Europe in Hampton, Virginia, on Nov. 13. NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP via Getty Images

Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist whose weekly school strikes have spurred global demonstrations, has cut short her tour of the Americas and set sail for Europe to attend COP25 in Madrid next month, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
The Lake Delhi Dam in Iowa failed in 2010. VCU Capital News Service / Josh deBerge / FEMA

At least 1,688 dams across the U.S. are in such a hazardous condition that, if they fail, could force life-threatening floods on nearby homes, businesses, infrastructure or entire communities, according to an in-depth analysis of public records conducted by the the Associated Press.

Read More Show Less

By Sabrina Kessler

Far-reaching allegations about how a climate-sinning American multinational could shamelessly lie to the public about its wrongdoing mobilized a small group of New York students on a cold November morning. They stood in front of New York's Supreme Court last week to follow the unprecedented lawsuit against ExxonMobil.

Read More Show Less

By Alex Robinson

Leah Garcés used to hate poultry farmers.

The animal rights activist, who opposes factory farming, had an adversarial relationship with chicken farmers until around five years ago, when she sat down to listen to one. She met a poultry farmer called Craig Watts in rural North Carolina and learned that the problems stemming from factory farming extended beyond animal cruelty.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
People navigate snow-covered sidewalks in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on Nov. 11 in Chicago. Scott Olson / Getty Images

Temperatures plunged rapidly across the U.S. this week and around 70 percent of the population is expected to experience temperatures around freezing Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
A general view of the flooded St. Mark's Square after an exceptional overnight "Alta Acqua" high tide water level, on Nov. 13 in Venice. MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP / Getty Images

Two people have died as Venice has been inundated by the worst flooding it has seen in more than 50 years, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
Supply boats beside Aberdeen Wind Farm on Aug. 4, 2018. Rab / CC BY 2.0

President Donald Trump doesn't like wind turbines.

In April, he claimed they caused cancer, and he sued to stop an offshore wind farm that was scheduled to go up near land he had purchased for a golf course in Aberdeenshire in Scotland. He lost that fight, and now the Trump Organization has agreed to pay the Scottish government $290,000 to cover its legal fees, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Read More Show Less