Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Shell nominated for Worst Greenwash

In the 'Worst EU Lobby Awards', Royal Dutch Shell has been nominated for suggesting that their oil refineries emit flowers, not smoke.

In the wake of increasing public conviction that climate change needs to be addressed, Shell is trying to remodel its image in order to appeal to the environmental consciousness of potential customers. Advertising in newspapers and magazines in April and May 2007, the company showed a refinery emitting flowers from its chimneys with claims that it uses its “waste CO2 to grow flowers and [its] waste sulphur to make concrete”. However, in reality, less than 0.5 percent of Shell’s total CO2 emissions are piped into Dutch greenhouses to grow flowers. Furthermore, most of Shell’s sulphur waste is used for ship fuel and is finally released in the air. Sea ships are one of the biggest sources of sulphur dioxide pollution.

For full info see here.

See UK Guardian story "No bouquets for Shell press ad"


On February 3, 2007, nature lovers smeared oil all over the photographs at the London Natural History Museum's Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit, which was sponsored by Shell.


The ‘Worst EU Lobbying’ Award is to be given to the lobbyist, company or lobby group that in 2007 has employed the most deceptive, misleading, or otherwise problematic lobbying tactics in their attempts to influence EU decision-making. This year’s event also includes a special ‘Worst EU Greenwash’ Award for the company whose advertising, PR and lobbying lingo is most at odds with the real environmental impacts of their core business activities.

The EU lobby awards are organised by Corporate Europe Observatory, Friends of the Earth Europe, LobbyControl and Spinwatch.


In 2002 Shell Foundation gave EMBARQ funding which totalled USD 7.5 million, for a five-year programme.

In 2006 alone Royal Dutch Shell made a profit of USD 26.311 billion.

The amount of money Shell gave to EMBARQ represents a very tiny little bit of the money they are playing with. And most of the rest - I assume minus some other donations - is about feeding the automobile habit of the world. Personal cars.. killing, maiming, scaring, screaming, terrorizing. Balance that against the projects of EMBARQ in Mexico, China, Turkey and so on... I don't think you can, no matter how great they are.

That's why it is Greenwash, even if it goes beyond adverts and spin.

Now, I don't only blame EMBARQ - but of course I also don't like that Caterpillar - the company that supplies military bulldozers to the Israeli Army used for tearing down Palestinian homes - is their other major sponsor beside Shell. I blame national governments and the people that vote them in for screwing up priorities so much that an oil addiction pusher like Shell or, again, an advertising company like JCDecaux has to come in and try to save everyone. Still, the foundations and organisations we work with do make choices. What is most disheartening is when they say that Company X is helping them right before they stick their collective head in the sand about the rest of it.

Unfortunately, the recent Towards Carfree Cities conference of World Carfree Network - Green Idea Factory is a member - in Istanbul, hosted by the Turkish Traffic Safety Association, also received some support from EMBARQ. I have not yet received any details on this, but I will post it here when I get more info. Their sponsorship was not so high-profile, but it was still a conscious effort of EMBARQ.

Finally, the Royal Green Shower of Shell gets even worse.

More information and related:
Controversies concerning Royal Dutch Shell
Sourcewatch Wiki on Shell
Shell and Ferrari advert
Very long and funny Shell advert about oil extraction
Greenwash of biggest Czech environmental foundation
Laws on adverts in Norway

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