Campaigners launch complaint against oil advert

Friends of the Earth has filed complaints to advertising standards authorities in the UK, Netherlands and Belgium claiming an advert publicising oil company Shell's green credentials is misleading.

The advert shows the outline of an oil refinery emitting flowers rather than smoke and seeks to get across the fact that the company is piping CO2 from a refinery in the Netherlands to heat nearby greenhouses, saving 350,000 tonnes of the gas a year.

FoE argues that the message misleads the public as the CO2 from that particular refinery is a tiny fraction – less than 0.5% – of the company’s total global emissions.

The campaign group asserts that the slogan used by the advert, don’t throw anything away, there is no away, might be true but does not accurately represent the manner in which Shell carries out its operations.

Shell published its 2006 Sustainability Report this week, which maintains it is possible to be a fossil fuel company and be serious about mitigating CO2 emissions.

“Shell is committed to help meet the world’s current and future energy needs in environmentally and socially responsible ways,” a spokesperson for the company told edie.

“Our advertisement should be seen alongside our messaging on how governments, industry and consumers should meet the energy and CO2 challenges.

“This ad is one of a series about how we meet the world’s energy needs while also tackling the negative effects of energy production and use.”

She said that the world would need hydrocarbons to meet its energy needs for some time to come and Shell was looking at ways to mitigate the emissions.

“This is about raising awareness and at the same time showing solutions,” she said.

“It shows we’re aware of the size of the challenge. We have more advertisements about biofuels and other alternatives.”

The company was also in the news in the USA this week after being ordered to pay a civil penalty of $2.9 million following excessive emissions of carbon monoxide from a refinery in Martinez, California in March.

Over 900 tons of the gas was released due to equipment failure.

Sam Bond

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie