Shell’s polluting practises blasted by 2 reports: Take Action HERE

As Peter Voser becomes Shell’s new CEO on 1st July, his inbox is already feeling the weight of a 143-page report from Amnesty International, and a critical report from the ShellGuilty coalition. The reports document Shell’s appalling impact on the human rights of oil-producing communities in Nigeria and Shell’s impact on the global climate, respectively. They will make unsettling reading for Shell, the largest operator in Nigeria’s oil fields, and campaigners are urging the company to address the social and environmental injustices occurring daily in the oil-rich Niger Delta.

Audrey Gaughran, author of the Amnesty International report said:

Despite its public claims to be a socially and environmentally responsible corporation, Shell continues to directly harm human rights through its failure to adequately prevent and mitigate pollution and environmental damage in the Niger Delta.

These conclusions back up recent findings of ‘Shell’s Big Dirty Secret’, a report launched yesterday by the ShellGuilty coalition, Friends of the Earth, Oil Change International and PLATFORM. Shell’s operations in Nigeria are marred by persistent oil spills and gas flaring, where the gas that comes mixed with oil is simply burnt off.
One of the disturbing findings of Amnesty’s report is the unmonitored impact of waste water and effluent that Shell and other companies keep dumping in the fishing waters of the Niger Delta. Amnesty International cite a Shell publication that

SPDC’s environmental programme aims to progressively reduce emissions and effluents and discharges of waste materials that have a negative impact on the environment.” Petroleum, Pollution and Poverty in the Niger Delta

Internal Shell documents seen by the authors of ‘Shell’s Big Dirty Secret’ point to a more damaging picture of deception and negligence on the dumping of waste by-products.

Although Shell’s PR documents would say the environment was “central” to its activities, as international pressure grew against the company, the Shell Group lowered its environmental standards. One confidential Environmental Management Audit for Shell Expo, written in June 1994, noted that Shell’s “policy aim ‘To eliminate emissions, effluents and discharges that are known to have a negative effect on the environment’ has been abandoned.” Shell’s audit team said it could be “interpreted as a retrograde step”. Shell’s Big Dirty Secret

The human impact of Shell’s negligence is hard to imagine, but in Audrey Gaughran words:

People living in the Niger Delta have to drink, cook with and wash in polluted water. They eat fish contaminated with oil and other toxins – if they are lucky enough to be able to still find fish. The land they farm on is being destroyed. After oil spills the air they breathe smells of oil, gas and other pollutants. People complain of breathing problems and skin lesions – and yet neither the government nor the oil companies monitor the human impacts of oil pollution.

The high level of toxins in the environment can be traced to gas flaring, which also accounts for a substantial portion of Shell’s colossal contribution to climate change.  Shell refuses to take decisive action to halt this toxic and wasteful practise. At a time when the world needs urgent reductions in carbon emissions, Shell’s impact on the global climate is only set to increase. Under Jeroen Van der Veer, Shell expanded its investment into Canada’s tar sands, one of the most carbon intensive forms of fossil fuel, second only to Nigerian oil.

Shell aggressively increased its position in Canada’s oil sands industry through three major strategic moves. Throughout 2006 the Shell Group began buying out the minority shareholders in Shell Canada. The deal, concluded in March 2007, at a cost of $7.4 billion, put Shell in full control of the group’s most significant oil resource. Shell’s Big Dirty Secret

The upshot is that in years to come, Shell will be producing the most carbon. At precisely the time that the world needs urgent reductions in carbon emissions.

…based on reported total resources – Shell’s production of oil and gas will become the most carbon intense of its peers. It will rise by 85 per cent from today’s figure – an increase markedly greater than its competitors. This sharp rise is due to Shell’s total resources being dominated by unconventional oil [tar sands], as well as Shell’s ongoing reliance on Nigerian crude with its associated gas flaring. Shell’s Big Dirty Secret

When Shell CEO Jeroen Van der Veer retires on 1st July, he leaves behind a legacy on the environment so disastrous that Peter Voser will face enormous challenges in turning the company around. Whether Voser can put a stop to Shell’s trail of destruction in Nigeria and sabotage of the climate depends on our ability to take action and demand change, by sending Voser a strong message.