When Peter Voser (on the right of the photo) takes the helm of the oil giant Shell on Wednesday, he might just start beginning to wonder what a complete mess he has inherited from his predecessor, van der Veer (he’s on the left).
This mess is graphically illustrated in a 32 page devastating critique of van der Veer’s time at the head of Shell, which can be downloaded here. It exposes how:
- Van der Veer has made Shell the most carbon intensive oil company – a highly risky concept in a carbon-constrained world, by moving Shell heavily into polluting tar sands, LNG and continuing to flare gas in Nigeria;
- Van der Veer has cut back on investments in renewables;
- Van der Veer personally led lobby efforts in Brussels against improvements to the EU’s Emission Trading System, and threatened to move refineries out of Europe if Shell and other oil companies were made to pay for their emissions;
- Van der Veer has reneged on promises to end gas flaring. The report reveals new internal documents that show Shell knew of the environmental dangers of gas flaring in Nigeria more than fifteen years ago, but chose not to stop flaring purely for financial reasons;
- Shell continues to greenwash its image.
In contrast, the press are giving van der Veer a rapturous fare-well. Reuters ran a headline last week that said van der Veer was a “modest CEO who ‘healed’ oil major Shell”, after the reserves fiasco.
Van der Veer, Reuters, alleges, was a safe pair of hands. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Even Reuters points out “One of Van der Veer’s key strategic moves was to accelerate a charge into unconventional oil projects …. At the end of his term, van der Veer scaled back new investments in renewable energy, a move for which Shell was criticized by environmentalists but which reflected a broader trend in the industry.”
Peter Voser needs to act now to help save the climate. Steve Kretzmann from Oil Change International, one of the report’s authors, said: “Shell could stop flaring gas in Nigeria for only 10 per cent of last years’ profit for the company. The company’s new head, Peter Voser, has the power to stop gas flaring, spare Nigerians from inhaling deadly toxins, and help to curb climate change in one stroke. The question is: will he?”
Voser could stop gas flaring tomorrow if he wished, certainly before the Climate Conference in Copenhagen. But the ugly truth for Shell is that its cheaper to poison people and the planet than clean up its act. That’s one of its dirty little secrets..