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Shell has recently put forward the idea of carbon capture from the atmosphere as a possible solution to tackle global warming. The proposed method demands substantial energy input, making it currently unfeasible. In this scenario Shell named Sky , the world in 2070 still makes considerable use of fossil fuels. Critics are skeptical about whether this proposal is a sincere attempt to address climate change or merely a tactic to sidestep the implementation of measures that might negatively impact Shell’s business. Shell has been aware of climate change since the 1980s and has invested significant time and resources into avoiding climate action.

Furthermore, the oil industry’s “carbon capture” deception has allegedly utilized billions in public funds to increase oil production. Currently, there are only 26 commercial carbon capture and storage (CCS) facilities worldwide, capturing a mere 0.1% of annual CO2 emissions.

The carbon capture and storage debate

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) has been touted as a key technology in meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement [1]. CCS involves permanently storing carbon dioxide emissions underground, and there are currently 20 major facilities operating globally. However, the technology has faced criticism, with Greenpeace International describing it as a scam that involves using public money to increase oil production and profits for oil companies [2]. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been accused of enabling this deception by relying on CCS in its climate models [2].

Shell’s Proposal and its Feasibility

Shell’s climate resolution received 80% of votes at a recent shareholder meeting, with the company aiming for net-zero emissions by 2050 [3]. Critics argue that Shell’s spending plans still prioritize oil and gas, increasing low-carbon energy spending to just 25% by 2025 [3]. Shell’s proposal to use carbon capture from the atmosphere as a climate change solution is not feasible in the short term and requires significant energy [3]. If such green energy were available, it could be more efficient to use it directly rather than producing additional CO2 emissions.

Questionable Science and Unproven Technology

Shell’s net-zero plan has been met with skepticism, with some shareholders announcing their intention to reject it [4]. The plan has been criticized for being based on questionable science, unproven technology, and the fantastical notion of planting a forest the size of Brazil to offset carbon emissions [4]. Johan Rockström from the Stockholm Resilience Center stated that Shell’s Sky Scenario lies outside the feasibility corridor to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C [4]. Moreover, Shell’s plan is seen as a defense of its core oil and gas business rather than a genuine attempt at energy transition [4].

Implications for the Climate and Shell’s Reputation

Given the questions surrounding the feasibility of Shell’s carbon capture proposal and the allegations of deception in the oil industry, the company’s commitment to addressing climate change remains uncertain. Shell’s plan has potentially far-reaching consequences for the environment and could result in the company being removed from the UK Cop26 presidency, the Race to Zero campaign, and Mark Carney’s Glasgow Financial Alliance taskforce [4]. As the world seeks urgent solutions to climate change, the legitimacy of Shell’s proposal and its true intentions are crucial to ensuring a sustainable future.


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