1990 Shell Selected Papers “The environmental challenge and the oil industry’s response”

chain of uncertainty

This 1990 collection of papers, titled “The environmental challenge and the oil industry’s response,” outlines Royal Dutch/Shell Group’s (“Shell”) issues surrounding the environment, energy efficiency, inter-fuel substitution, and “Shell policy.” This document, a part of a larger collection discovered by Jelmer Mommers of De Correspondent in a trove of internal Shell documents, reckons with climate change and the oil industry.

Recognizing that the “possibility of climate change due to human activity is, presently, by far the most important global environmental issue” now and “in the next decade,” the author sill emphasizes that “[t]he issue itself is surrounded by uncertainties.” The author continues,  “[a]lthough there is consensus that increased greenhouse gases may cause a warming effect over time, there is no clear picture of regional climatic responses and an even less clear image of the ecological and societal effects of shifting climate zones.”

Despite the emphasis on uncertainty, this document reflects that climate change was a central issue inside of Shell, the rest of the energy industry, and the world at large. In conclusion, the author writes, “[b]ut no one can deny that the production, transportation, refining and use of fossil fuels have an impact on the environment.”



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