That’s the view of UK fuel tech company SulNOx Group Plc and Caroline Dennett who publicly severed tied with Shell, accusing the company of having a “disregard for climate change risks”.
Nawaz Haq, executive director of SulNOx Group, said: “Systematic change on a global scale is needed – we have to have policies, infrastructures and technologies in place now that put the environment first. We cannot simply sit around twiddling our thumbs while we wait for clean power sources to become viable.
A drop in the ocean
Endorsing comments made by investment banker turned clean energy entrepreneur Assaad Razzouk in his book ‘Saving the Planet Without the Bullsh*t’, Mr Haq argues that, while individual efforts to be eco-friendly are important from a moral perspective, they make little actual difference and are dwarfed by the tools governments have at their disposal to reduce emissions if they were to tackle the main culprits.
He comments: “We have developed technologies which can help both individuals and businesses reduce their environmental impact while, at the same time, saving them money. And while it is fantastic that a driver can put SulNOx in their tank and increase their MPG while reducing their carbon output, this is a drop in the ocean compared to what could be achieved if big business changed its ways. And it will only do this if legislated to by government.
“Systematic change on a global scale is needed – we have to have policies, infrastructures and technologies in place now that put the environment first. We cannot simply sit around twiddling our thumbs while we wait for clean power sources to become viable.
“Energy companies and Big Oil have got to shift significantly. We have had a lot of promises, but now we need to see action.
“The new CEO at Shell, for example, has said the ‘opportunity to be able to rewire the entire energy system towards lower carbon’ is a ‘fantastic opportunity’. But we also know Shell only invested the equivalent of 6.3% of its £17.1bn profits into renewable energy in the first half of the year, nearly three times less than it invested in new oil and gas.”
The wrong incentives
Caroline Dennett, safety consultant, believes there is no incentive for Big Oil to contribute to climate and pollution solutions: “Certainly in the UK, the oil and gas majors are not encouraged by the government to invest in decarbonising our energy infrastructure and systems.
Instead, she said: “It is the opposite. For example, the much debated ‘windfall tax’ on oil and gas companies’ recent high profits was discounted by 91% if the companies evidenced substantial re-investment in new oil and gas extraction projects in the North Sea.
“How beneficial would it be for both energy security and securing a liveable future if the discount was offered in return for investment in renewable energy infrastructure and development? Instead, renewable energy companies are ordered to pay a higher tax levy than these fossil fuel producers, 45% vs 35%, with no chance of a discount for re-investment in renewables.
“These are the wrong incentives. We need smarter thinking and policies from the government that match their carbon reduction pledges.”