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THE HAGUE -- It is virtually an unspoken irony here that the climate change negotiations are taking place in Royal Dutch Shell's home town. Shell, one of the world's largest oil corporations, is responsible for a great deal of global warming gasses.
For instance, the CO2 emissions from the oil Shell produces are greater than those coming from all of Central America.
Yet Shell, one of the worst corporate violators of human and environmental rights globally and locally, is promoting itself as part of the solution to environmental problems in general and climate change in particular.
The latest installment to its greenwash advertising series "Profits and Principles" is aimed directly at the climate negotiations. In it, Shell claims to be "clearing the air" and helping solve the climate change problem.
But at a press conference held inside the climate negotiations today, representatives of communities affected by Shell's operations from around the world called upon the global giant to stop clouding the air with deceptive public relations ploys and to instead clearly face up to the human and environmental impacts of its continuing quest to explore for and produce as much oil as possible.
One of the participants was Dr. Owens Wiwa-brother of the late Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was executed by the Nigerian government five years ago this month. Dr. Wiwa accused Shell of continuing to put profits before basic principles of human decency in the Niger Delta.
"In 1993 the Ogoni people ejected Shell from their land because they were flaring gas and poisoning the people with methane, carbon monoxide and C02," said Dr. Wiwa. "At that time we did not know that these same chemicals that we were breathing were also contributing to global warming. Now Shell wants to possibly come back to Ogoni to continue to poison our lungs, our land and the atmosphere. We once again reject that."
Dr. Wiwa was joined by S. "Bobby" Peek, a winner of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize. Mr. Peek, who represents the South African organization groundWork, told reporters that "until we exposed them, Shell lied about their refinery emissions in South Africa for 40 years. Today Shell's toxic pollution continues to poison local communities in a democratic South Africa, and contribute to the company's global carbon emissions. If they lied to their neighbors about emissions in South Africa, how can we begin to believe their rhetoric at the climate change negotiations?"
That rhetoric is coming from an army of lobbyists Shell has sent to buttonhole diplomats, ministers and media at the negotiations. At least forty-three Shell representatives are acredited to COP6, composing nearly one-third of the World Businsess Council for Sustainable Development delegation.
"The Shell contingent is larger than most governmental delegations and the company produces oil responsible for emissions greater than those of most countries" said Joshua Karliner, Director of San Francisco-based Corporate Watch. "Shell must be held accountable for its contribution to climate change." At the press conference Corporate Watch also issued Shell a Greenwash Award for its deceptive advertising (see www.corpwatch.org).
Dr. Wiwa, Mr. Peek and Margie Richard -- who, in her words, "came all the way to the Hague to tell Shell Oil about what they are doing to my hometown in Norco, Louisiana" -- planned to deliver samples of water from the Niger Delta and air from Louisiana to Shell headquarters today.
- 100 Climate Justice Initiative
- 102 Greenwash Awards