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Shell publicity stunt

Shell publicity stunt
08 June 2019 - PR

Very recently this blog (based in The Netherlands) had the opportunity to tank gasoline at a Shell station that had on offer a brand new product: carbon dioxide compensation. And very affordable: on one litre of E95 at 1,71 euro it costs just one cent. Shell's carbon footprint is a hot topic, the Dutch environmental organisation Milieudefensie is suing the company. (link) They argue that although Shell claims to support the 2016 Paris Agreement they continue with their large-scale oil and gas production. (link) They demand that the company abandons all oil and gas.

The court case has yet to start but it seems the company has already made it void with the introduction of the 'Go Well' campaign last month (link). The one cent compensates not only the one litre of gasoline itself but also it's production. The compensation is by way of forest protection projects one in Cordillera Azul National Park and on in Katingan Mentaya in Indonesia.

The one cent does not seem a lot. To check, if 1 litre emits 2.7 kilogram of carbon dioxide (source) and one carbon credit is equal to 1000 Kg we only have to find the current price paid for one carbon credit. Easier said than done, this blog time boxed the internet search to one hour but came up empty handed. It is not like finding the current Shell share price (under a second). If the businessinsider website (link) is to be believed then 24 Euro for one carbon credit (CO2 European Emission Allowance) translates to 6,5 cents which makes one cent not enough. As no one is disputing the one cent the blog must be missing a point.

One cent is then a tiny amount especially considering that the 1,71 Euro litre price is built up with 61% in taxes. The same litre in neighbouring (less tax-crazy) Belgium a week later was 1,43 Euro. The Dutch government could increase the taxes by one cent in the blink of an eye and every car in the country is covered.

And how have the environmental organisations responded? There is no paper trail but statements picked up from Milieudefensie and Greenpeace on radio and television summarise as 'is not going to be enough, just stop the production'. Keep in mind though that the compensation scheme now adopted by Shell is the very same as the ones popular with green people for offsetting their carbon footprint.


Side note on the Milieudefensie claims: the Wikipedia page on the Paris agreement only mentions countries as signatories and not companies, it mentions the goal of limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees but not that it has been agreed to keep coal and oil in the ground.