The oil industry has been working hard lately to appear as though they really care about climate change. It’s a sham. These statements just aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. So here’s a run-down on a few of the ways the industry has been gaslighting us lately.

(Total lack of) personal responsibility

In a real slick move earlier this month, oil giant Shell took to Twitter with a fun new poll to ask people what they “are willing to change to help reduce emissions.”  The options weren’t necessarily bad ideas in themselves, but coming from a company that is estimated to have the seventh highest carbon footprint of any company that’s ever existed, they sound suspiciously like passing the buck. In 2017, Shell’s personal contribution to climate change was estimated at 2.36% of all global fossil fuel and cement emissions since 1965.  

So why is Shell asking people what they are willing to do? Shell: what are YOU willing to change to help reduce emissions?

Don’t worry, Twitter lost no time in pointing out the hypocrisy. Scroll through for a few of the best responses.

Canada’s oil industry supports climate action… honest!

We’ve been pushing Shell to abandon their membership of CAPP because it cannot be reconciled with their commitments on climate change and accountability. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that Shell’s policies are just another example of industry gaslighting

The good news, however, is that our campaign is starting to bear fruit.  Shell is still maintaining (wrongly) that it can be part of CAPP and support climate action, but they are clearly putting pressure on CAPP to try harder to look like they care about climate change.  

A couple of weeks ago CAPP quietly updated its ‘Climate Commitments’ webpage to include language about supporting the Paris Agreement on climate change. They say they will “work with government(s) to meet emissions reduction objectives and the ambition of the Paris Agreement… as a global framework for addressing the risk of climate change” .. that is, as long as they can still “protect [their] competitiveness.”

Oil and gas drilling rig in the Rocky Mountain foothills.

It’s pretty incredible that it’s only now, almost five years after the Paris Agreement was signed, that CAPP is willing to acknowledge it publicly. But even this baby step is one to watch. CAPP might say that they can support the “ambition” of the Paris Agreement, but that hasn’t stopped them lobbying against every climate policy on the table.

In April they were caught secretly lobbying cabinet ministers for the rollback of a huge swath of environmental legislation, on the extremely shaky grounds of the COVID-19 pandemic. And as recently as September they’ve been lobbying the government to make changes to the Clean Fuel Standard that would let industry off the hook for its emissions. 

Climate guilt, just 2 cents per litre

Finally, just last week Shell announced another brand new initiative to help their customers reduce their carbon footprint guilt individuals into subsidising Shell’s climate promises: offsetting at the pump. Shell is asking customers to pay an extra 2 cents on the litre at their gas stations to fund a tree-planting initiative in northern Canada. 

While we all want to do our part for the climate, this approach is all wrong.

Firstly, carbon offset schemes are in no way a replacement for actually avoiding the emissions in the first place. Telling people that it’s fine to burn gas because you can just offset it is dangerous greenwashing, and risks distorting the fact that we desperately need to move away from oil and gas.

The second issue is one I’ve already mentioned here, but it’s worth repeating. Royal Dutch Shell is estimated to have the seventh highest carbon footprint of any company that’s ever existed, and produced 2.36% of all global fossil fuel emissions since 1965. Telling individuals that we need to lower our carbon footprint by paying them more is pure gaslighting.

This is all part of their ongoing greenwashing PR stunt. Shell is hoping that they can convince us that they while they care about climate change, emissions reductions are really our responsibility. Because that way maybe people won’t notice that they are still quietly funding CAPP to lobby against any and all meaningful climate policy. Policies which would actually cut emissions, and force them to support a real transition to a clean economy.

Shell, time to stop gaslighting, live up to your word, and quit CAPP.