Shell, which aims to become a net-zero emissions company by 2050, said it was concerned by what it described as a “short-sighted” decision.
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The UK’s advertising regulator has banned an ad campaign promoting green initiatives ShellIt claims the oil giant’s marketing of lower-emissions energy products is “likely to mislead” consumers.
The ban covers a poster seen in Bristol, south-west England, a TV advert and a video posted on Shell’s YouTube channel. All ads published in 2022 sought to raise awareness of Shell’s range of energy products under the campaign slogan “The UK is ready for cleaner energy”.
“From electric car charging to renewable electricity for your home, Shell is offering customers more low-carbon options and helping to drive the UK’s energy transition,” the company says in one of the ads.
Advertising Standards Authority he said On Tuesday, after an investigation, he concluded that the ad campaign may be leading people to overestimate the company’s investments in clean energy. The ASA said more information was needed to fully capture that most of Shell’s business is based on environmentally damaging fossil fuels.
Shell, which is targeting net-zero emissions by 2050, said it was concerned by what it called a “short-sighted” decision.
“We strongly disagree with the ASA’s decision, which could slow the UK’s move towards renewable energy,” a company spokesman said.
“People are already well aware that Shell produces the oil and gas they depend on today,” they said. “But what many people don’t know is that we’re also investing heavily in low-carbon and net-zero energy, including building one of the UK’s largest public networks of electric car charging stations.”
The ASA decision noted that Shell believes the ads “accurately represent” the range of lower-emissions energy products and services it offers and that any mention of the firm’s high-carbon products would be “counterproductive”.
The statement comes in the middle of a a palpable sense of frustration from climate activists during Big Oil’s election season, where shareholders ultimately rejected calls for companies to take tougher measures to mitigate the climate crisis.
The burning of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal is a major driver of the climate emergency.
The ASA said consumers “remain concerned about the environmental impact of activities related to higher carbon products and services”.
Campaign group AdFree Cities said the ASA decision “sends a strong message” to energy companies that greenwashing advertising campaigns will no longer be tolerated in the UK. They also called on UK lawmakers to introduce tough legislation to stop fossil fuel advertising altogether.
“The world’s biggest polluters won’t be allowed to advertise that they’re ‘green’ while they build new pipelines, refineries and oil rigs – but that doesn’t go far enough,” said Veronica Wignall, co-director of Adfree Cities, which led. complaint.
“Shell and other fossil fuel expanders should not be allowed to advertise at all, given their historic and ongoing role in destroying the planet,” Wignall said.
Big oil posted record profits last year, boosted by soaring fossil fuel prices and strong demand following Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Shell reported its highest-ever annual profit of nearly US$40 billion for 2022. That comfortably beat the US$28.4 billion in 2008, which Shell said was its previous annual record, and was more than double the firm’s full-year profit 2021 at $19.29 billion.
Last month, Shell reported an adjusted profit for the first three months of 2023 of $9.6 billion.
The company’s shares were mixed on Wednesday. Shell’s share price fell by around 2.4% year-on-year.