Oil giant Shell was accused yesterday of “cynical” greenwashing for saying one thing and doing another in the fight against climate change.

At a “summit” on the issue organised by the Guardian newspaper in London, Tony Juniper, executive director of Friends of the Earth, accused Shell of sponsoring the event in a bid to align itself with green issues while failing to clean up its own act.

Shell was spending more on exploiting fossil fuels – as in its carbon-intensive tar sands operations in Canada – while failing to put out its illegal flares in Nigeria, he argued. “Shell needs to move away from PR being a term for public relations and use it for pollution reduction,” he said.

The wildlife organisation WWF also attacked Shell on its tar sand business while highlighting how its coal-to-liquid fuel technique was also carbon-intensive. “My question is where is the strategy to decrease rather than increase carbon?” asked Keith Allott, of WWF.