Articles Alleging Royal Dutch Shell Greenwash (and misleading advertising)

Shell advert: 'Don’t throw anything away, there is no away,’ (refinery emitting flowers)

Environmental Leader: Shell Catches Flak Over Green Ad, Releases Sustainability Report: 8 May 2007

New York Times: Shell and ‘Flower Power’: 31 May 2007

The Guardian: Shell rapped over CO2 advert: 7 November 2007

The Independent: Shell rapped for 'green' claims in advert: 8 November 2007

Environmental campaigners launched a stinging attack on Shell yesterday after advertising regulators upheld complaints about claims the oil giant had made about its green credentials.

The Independent: Inside Story: Advertising environmentalism - Is it just greenwash?: 31 March 2008 (GREENWASH)


They say: Shell’s “Don’t throw anything away – there is no away” campaign features an ad with a cartoon oil refinery emitting flowers, accompanied by the claim that Shell uses its waste CO2 to grow flowers, and waste sulphur to make concrete.

Behind the greenwash: It turned out that Shell only recycled 0.325 per cent of its CO2 emissions in this way, and barely more of its waste sulphur. In November, the ASA welcomed Shell’s assurance that the ad would no longer be used. Shell is less keen to tell us all about its project to extract oil from the Canadian tar – just about the most climate-wrecking form of fossil fuel extraction one could imagine. Record complaints over 'greenwashing': 25 April 2008

Environmental Leader: Advertising Watchdog Sees Big Jump In Green Ad Complaints: 5 May 2008

Shell advert claiming Canadian oil sand extraction operation sustainable

Daily Telegraph: Shell adverts ‘misled’ consumers over environmental claims: 12 August 2008

Calgary Herald: WWF targets oilsands after court rules Shell ad is misleading: 13 August 2008

Campaign Magazine (BRAND REPUBLIC): Shell ad banned over 'greenwashing' claims: 13 August 2008

Financial Times: Complaint upheld over Shell advert: 13 August 2008

The ASA will announce today that it has upheld a complaint against Shell by WWF, the environmental charity, about the oil company's claims that oil sands in Canada were a "sustainable" energy source.

Shell's Canadian oil sands projects have proven controversial because they require much more energy and water than in traditional extraction and refining.

The ASA ruling says: "Because 'sustainable' was an ambiguous term, and because we had not seen data that showed how Shell was effectively managing carbon emissions from its oil sands projects in order to limit climate change, we concluded that on this point the ad was misleading."

Under the ruling Shell cannot reproduce the advertisement, which appeared just once, in the Financial Times in February this year.

Shell said in a statement: "We accept the adjudication of the ASA." It declined to comment on how many of

its advertisements contain claims about its environmental credentials, nor whether it would moderate the use of such terms in future marketing campaigns.

The Guardian: Shell rapped by ASA for 'greenwash' advert: 13 August 2008

Oil company's claim that its work in Alberta's tar sands was 'sustainable' is branded 'misleading' by Advertising Standards Authority.

The Guardian: WWF advert attacks Shell’s claims: 13 August 2008

The Independent: Shell rebuked for ‘greenwash’ over ad for polluting oil project: 13 August 2008

Environmental Leader: ASA: Shell Environmental Claims Violate Advertising Rules: 14 August 2008

The Independent: Time for multi-dimensional communication with oil companies: 15August 2008

For the second time in the last couple of years the Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell has found itself at the heart of the debate about greenwash in advertising.

In 2007 Shell ads suggested rather bizarrely that it had been using its waste CO2 emissions to grow flowers: the ad was condemned by the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). One year later another Shell ad has been banned. This time for suggesting that the company’s Canadian oil sand extraction operation was sustainable. Shell does not appear to have learnt its lesson.

Financial Post (Canada): Sustaina-bull: 16 August 2008

This week, petroleum giant Royal Dutch Shell had its knuckles rapped by the U. K.'s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over claims that its Canadian oil sands operations were "sustainable." There is a certain rich irony in Shell being hoist by its own environmental petard. The company's former CEO, Sir Philip Watts, once claimed that Shell's commitment to sustainable development and corporate social responsibility were what elevated it above its rivals. That was before he was thrown out of the company for cooking the books.

For years, Shell has been kowtowing to the environmental movement, and has featured a rogues' gallery of board members and executives who ranged between green radicalism and abject appeasement. Typically, as it groveled to defend itself in the ASA case, it quoted a report by the World Wildlife Fund, the very organization that had challenged its ad in the first place. One can't help conjuring up the image of a dog licking the hand of its vivisectionist.

Blogger News Network: The origins of Shell's "Greenwash" were back in 1997: 16 August 2008

The Guardian: Climate controls: The chairman of the ASA on the problems of greenwash...: 18 August 2008

The Observer: Shell comes under fire for role in Sakhalin audit: 31 August 2008

Dozens of emails released by the government under the Freedom of Information Act show how Shell officials in London attempted to downplay and edit international environmental criticism of the $22bn Sakhalin II energy scheme off the east coast of Russia, which has subsequently been all but fully financed. Shell accused of manipulating environmental report: 1 September 2008

Environmental Leader: Shell Criticized for Manipulating Environmental Audit Report: 2 September 2008

Calgard Herald: Shell to pull 'greenwash' ad on Canadian oilsands projects: 24 September 2008

The ASA upheld a high-profile complaint against Royal Dutch Shell for an ad that ran, just once, in the Financial Times in February, claiming that oil sands in Canada's wilderness were a "sustainable" energy source.

Ethical Corporation: Shell’s Sakhalin influence: October 2008

The Guardian: The great green swindle: 23 October 2008

Shell's sleight of hand was to use the much-abused word "sustainability" to imply a green agenda when what it was really on about was keeping a sustainable flow of fuel out of its forecourt pumps. The ASA cried foul.

Radio New Zealand "Shell fights Commerce Commission action":18 December 2008

New Zealand Herald: Watchdog says Shell Fuel ads misleading: (Front Page Story) 18 December 2008

New Zealand Herald: Watchdog says Shell fuel ads misleading: (Internet Version) 18 December 2008

New Zealand Herald: Open Letter from Shell to all New Zealanders: 18 December 2008

The Guardian: It will take more than goodwill and greenwash to save the biosphere: 6 January 2009

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 stopped producing ads extolling its investments in renewable energy. 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.

I asked Van der Veer a simple question - 15 times. (Only a few of these attempts feature in the edited film.) "What is the value of your annual investments in renewable energy?" He waffled, changed the subject, admitted that he knew the figure, then flatly refused to reveal it.

AlterNet: Monbiot Grills Shell Oil CEO: Is There Any Investment You Would Not Make on Ethical Grounds?: 8 January 2009

The Wall Street Journal: Shell's Green Ads Take New Tack: 2 February 2009

One of Shell's new print ads features a diagram of a human brain full of "unexpected" fuel sources like algae and woodchips . The ad has revived old allegations that Shell is "greenwashing" its business. Shell is trying "to hide the fact that the company is actually going backward when it comes to renewable energy," says Greenpeace climate campaigner Jim Footner.

The Times: Advertising regulators get tough over "greenwash": 3 February 2009

After upholding complaints about companies including Scottish & Southern Energy, Shell and British Gas, advertising watchdogs are preparing to clamp down on what critics call “greenwash”.

Environmental Leader: Shell Accused of Greenwashing, Again: 4 February 2009

Convenience Store News: Green Shell Ads Stress Innovations to Increase Oil Supply: 4 February 2009

Financial Times: Emissions disclosure study puts Shell bottom of the big oil class: 16 March 2009

The Guardian: Shell dumps wind, solar and hydro power in favour of biofuels: 17 March 2009

Shell will no longer invest in renewable technologies such as wind, solar and hydro power because they are not economic, the Anglo-Dutch oil company said today. It plans to invest more in biofuels which environmental groups blame for driving up food prices and deforestation.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) criticised Shell for freezing investment in renewables such as wind in favour of biofuels.

Reuters: Shell goes cold on wind, solar, hydrogen energy: 17 March 2009

The Guardian: Shell's subtle switch from renewables to the murky world of 'alternative' energy: 18 March 2009

The Times: Anger as Shell reduces renewables investment: 18 March 2009

The Guardian: Shoppers need clear labels to put a stop to 'greenwash': 23 March 2009

Financial Times: Clampdown on greenwash: 25 March 2009

The Guardian: Greenwash: Shell betrays 'new energy future' promises: 26 March 2009

In recent years, Shell has invested more than $1bn in the most commercial of the new renewable industries, wind power. It claims to have more than 500MW of wind power capacity altogether — the equivalent of half a regular power station.

It was chicken feed for them. But many hoped for more. Then last year, Shell pulled out of what would be the world's largest offshore wind farm in the Thames estuary. The London Array would have tripled its wind capacity.

The company claimed at the time that it was going to concentrate its renewables business in the US. Now that promise has quietly disappeared. Last week, its head of gas and power, Linda Cook, told reporters: "We do not expect material amounts of investment [in wind and solar] going forward." Biofuels will still get cash. Everything else is back into cold storage.

The Guardian: Shell faces shareholder revolt over Canadian tar sands project: 18 January 2010

The Guardian: Shell fights shareholders' campaign for oil sands review: 12 April 2010

‎A group of institutional investors want Shell to review the commerical and environmental viability of its oil sands project. Why the latest shareholder revolt at Shell is no risk to you: 15 April 2010

A group of investors led in the UK by ethical investment group Cooeratove asset management have tabled a special resolution calling on Shell to provide more detail on its plans to extract oil from Canada’s tar sands. Unions, church groups and environmental groups are all backing the international campaign coordinated by Fair Pensions.