It turns out Shell knew.
Last year was the hottest year on record for the 3rd consecutive time. According to NASA, 97% of actively publishing climate scientists agree that Climate-warming trends over the past century are due to human activities.
But scientists and environmental organizations are not the only ones that have warned about the catastrophic consequences of climate change. As it turns out, Shell, the sixth largest oil company in the world, knew and warned about it decades ago.
A rediscovered video from 1991 shows the dutch oil company warning about climate change in a 28 minute educational video. In the video, they warned about “extreme weather, floods, famines and climate refugees as fossil fuel burning warmed the world.”
But since then, Shell has invested in lobbying efforts against climate action in several countries and has also put billions of dollars in highly polluting tar sand operations and on exploration in the Arctic, according to The Guardian.
What’s in the video?
The video was made for public consumption and was meant to be shown in schools and universities. “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,” the video says.
Watch The Guardian’s summary of the video:
How did environmental organizations react?
Environmental organizations like Greenpeace or 350 are lashing out against the oil giant. “Shell knew too and carried on its relentless fossil fuel extraction,” said 350 on a tweet.
But they’re not just talking. A Greenpeace spokesperson told Shout! that they are taking some steps towards fighting Shell’s “concealment of climate science.” Those steps include calling for investigations from state attorneys general, calling for a Department of Justice investigation and “ensuring that financial and legal audiences also know about Exxon’s climate cover up and deception to not only the public, but also shareholders.”
What has been Shell’s response?
Shout! contacted a spokesperson for Shell for comment. “Our position on climate change is well known… Shell continues to call for effective policy to support lower carbon business and consumer choices and opportunities such as government lead carbon pricing/trading schemes,” he said, but declined to address the video itself.
Regarding the debate about the existence of climate change, Shell’s CEO, Ben van Beurden, said that they “believe that climate change is real and that action will be needed,” during a presentation to the media earlier this month. He added that company believes that the world in the middle of an energy transition that is “unstoppable and we want to be in the vanguard of that.”
About the author: Mauricio Holguin is a Mexican journalism student currently at The Washington Center in D.C. He's been a staff writer for Shout! since January 2017.