License: All rights reserved. Credit: Greenpeace

FOI: Shell training slides predict flooding

Kyla Mandel
License: All rights reserved. Credit: Shell

Much of England will be flooded by sea level rise if we continue with ‘business as usual’ according to a slide show given to government officials by Shell.


The slides, obtained by an Energydesk FOI request, were used during Shell's annual UK government training session in June 2010 - some information regarding Shell's view of carbon trading was redacted by DECC.

The slides show how the oil and gas major sought to persuade officials that gas, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and emissions trading are key to tackling climate change - with less emphasis on renewable energy. The company also advocates the immediate replacement of coal with gas power.

The six slideshow presentations were shown to mid-level and senior government officials in Shell’s ‘Energy Course for Whitehall’ on June 15 and 16 three years ago.

Future energy and climate scenarios are outlined in the slides, which emphasise that as energy demand continues to grow, supply is “struggling to keep pace” and environmental stresses are increasing.

In one picture, Shell shows northern Europe submerged under water in what it calls a “bad outcome”, if new technologies like carbon capture and storage are not implemented and a global carbon market is not developed.

This comes after a Guardian report last August revealed that senior Whitehall officials from 10 government departments and agencies, including the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), attended a two-day training course by Shell at its London headquarters in June 2012.

While they don’t necessarily reveal any new findings on the state of our climate, these 2010 slides do provide a window into what a Shell training session consists of, and the type and style of information it shares with government officials.

Of course, it should be noted that Shell limits all “forward-looking statements” shown in their slides to the date of the presentation, stating no obligation to “publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement as a result of new information, future events or other information".

Bearing that caveat in mind, it is still worth looking at the proposed solutions outlined in the slides. In one presentation, Shell states that “in [a] ‘Business as usual’ world, direct CO2 from energy would rise dramatically”, highlighting that there are “no silver bullets for supply growth”.

Due to this, Shell recognises the need to “shift the outcome” to avoid climate disaster and points to the important role government policy will play in implementing key strategies like carbon capture and storage (CCS) and emissions trading.

In addition, the training session proposes two policy scenarios, an extreme maximum and minimum in  the substitution of coal for gas. The first would involve shutting down all coal electricity between 2011 and 2017 and fitting gas electricity production with CCS as of 2025. The second scenario would keep coal production active until nuclear energy could replace it, meanwhile fitting coal and gas with CCS in 2020 and 2025 respectively.

If we followed the second scenario, Shells predicts 24 per cent higher emissions between 2005 - 2050 than the first option. One slide claims that “replacing coal with gas now, until CCS, wind and nuclear come online, gives 20 years of lower CO2 emissions".


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