A Shell consultant has quit in spectacular fashion after 11 years, posting a bombshell video where she accused the fossil fuel giant of “extreme harms” to the planet, climate change efforts and humanity.
UK-based Caroline Dennett said Shell was a longtime “major client” of her agency Clout which specialises in safety procedure evaluation in high-risk industries like oil and gas.
The executive began her working relationship with the British multinational after BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill (in which Shell was not involved) back in 2010 — the largest marine oil spill of all time — in which 11 people died.
“I’ve surveyed thousands of Shell employees and contractors around the world to help keep the ‘oil in the pipe’ and prevent harm to people. I hope through this work I’ve helped avoid accidents and spills,” she said in a post on LinkedIn.
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But after Dennett watched news footage of Extinction Rebellion climate protesters urging the company’s employees to leave, she said she felt compelled to act on Shell’s “double-talk” about climate change action.
“Shell is fully aware that their continued oil & gas extraction and expansion projects are causing extreme harms, to our climate, environment, nature and to people,” she wrote.
“They are not winding down on oil and gas, but planning to explore and extract much more.”
Dennett, who is a criminal justice graduate, also penned a damning open letter to Shell’s executives and 1400 employees where she urged them and others in the oil and gas industry to “walk away while there’s still time”.
“Shell is operating beyond the design limits of our planetary systems. Shell is not implementing steps to mitigate the known risks. Shell is not putting environmental safety before production,” the mass email read.
Dennett urged Shell’s executives to “look in the mirror and ask themselves if they really believe their vision for more oil and gas extraction secures a safe future for humanity”.
Afterwards, Dennett posted an explosive resignation video on LinkedIn — which quickly went viral — where she said “I just can’t be a part of this anymore”.
“I can no longer work for a company that ignores all the alarms and dismisses the risks of climate change and ecological collapse,” she continued.
Dennett also ridiculed Shell’s stated safety ambition to do no harm. “Goal Zero”, she continued “sounds honourable but they are completely failing on it”.
Her post and accompanying video attracted positive and negative feedback. BFG Associates founder Val King responded: “Your action has spurred me on to do more to protect my children and future generations” while a former commercial advisor at Shell, Brian W. Darracott, responded: “Sorry, but this is deluded nonsense.”
“Frankly, we should be producing as much gas as we can sensibly and economically use. We’ve seen recently what happens when we don’t! Take Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a wake-up call,” he continued.
Shell, which held its annual general meeting for shareholders on Tuesday in London, responded by saying it was committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.
“Be in no doubt, we are determined to deliver on our global strategy to be a net zero company by 2050 and thousands of our people are working hard to achieve this,” Shell Australia told SmartCompany.
“We have set targets for the short, medium and long term, and have every intention of hitting them.
“We’re already investing billions of dollars in low-carbon energy, although the world will still need oil and gas for decades to come in sectors that can’t be easily decarbonised.”
But UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last month said governments and companies were launching new fossil fuel projects while claiming to take climate science seriously.
“Simply put, they are lying. And the results will be catastrophic,” he said, calling for an end to all new fossil fuel projects.
Dennett concludes that she appreciates she’s “privileged” to be able to walk away from Shell, and that many others may not be “so lucky”.
But if they can, they should, she said.
“Walk away, while there’s still time. Do it now.”