Shell ad banned over 'greenwashing' claims

LONDON - The advertising watchdog today slammed an ad by Shell International, saying it made misleading claims over the company's investment in green technology.

Shell...'greenwash' ad banned by Advertising Standards Authority
Shell...'greenwash' ad banned by Advertising Standards Authority

The print ad appeared in the Financial Times in February, with the headline "We invest today's profits in tomorrow's solutions".

The ASA upheld two complaints by WWF that the ad cited two examples of investment which were not environmentally sustainable.

Commenting on the ruling, David Norman, director of campaigns at WWF-UK, said: "The ASA's decision to uphold WWF's complaint sends a strong signal to business and industry that greenwash is unacceptable,"

The first complaint referred to part of the ad which stated that the firm was investing heavily in new technology to safeguard shareholders and future generations.

The ad then cited Shell's investment in a massive oil sands extraction project in Canada, and in the USA's largest refinery.

Responding to the complaints, Shell argued that the process involved in the Canadian sands project would produce 10 per cent fewer CO2 emissions than other methods and that the project had a voluntary green code.

It said the US project involved expanding an existing refinery, and was being carried out in accordance with the underlying principles of sustainable development.

However, the ASA noted a 2006 report by Canada's National Energy Board, which stated the large scale of the oil sands development had considerable social and environmental impacts.

The watchdog said of the US refinery: "We considered...that although emissions might be reduced on a per barrel basis, the increased production of the refinery by 325,000 barrels per day would increase the total overall emissions from the Port Arthur refinery."

The ASA said the ad must not be reprinted, and Shell said that it will not appear again.

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