Shell consultant resigns and blasts oil giant for 'operating beyond the design limits of our planetary systems'

Shell consultant resigns and blasts oil giant for 'operating beyond the design limits of our planetary systems'
Tigard, OR, USA - Oct 21, 2021: Closeup of the fuel price sign at a Shell gas station in Tigard, Oregon. Oil prices reach multi-year highs as a result of tight global supply and strengthening demand (Shutterstock).

A long-time Shell consultant based in the United Kingdom quit with a bang on Monday, condemning the fossil fuel giant for its dangerous efforts to expand oil and gas production despite numerous scientific warnings about the need for swift decarbonization to avert climate disaster.

"Shell's stated safety ambition is to 'do no harm,'" Caroline Dennett, who worked with the company for 11 years as a senior safety consultant, said in a video shared on LinkedIn, which echoed points made in a resignation letter she emailed to CEO Ben Van Beurden and 1,400 employees.

This so-called "Goal Zero" pledge "sounds honorable," said Dennett. "But they are completely failing on it. They know that continued oil and gas extraction causes extreme harms to our climate, to our environment, and to people."

"Shell is operating beyond the design limits of our planetary systems," Dennett wrote in an email obtained by Politico. "Shell is not implementing steps to mitigate the known risks. Shell is not putting environmental safety before production."

Dennett cited the findings of the International Energy Agency (IEA), which made clear last year that achieving a net-zero energy system by 2050—thus giving the world an even chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels by 2100, beyond which impacts grow increasingly catastrophic—requires halting new dirty energy projects and accelerating the shift to clean power.

Although the IEA stated unequivocally in May 2021 that "investment in new fossil fuel supply" and "new oil and natural gas fields" are incompatible with its net-zero pathway, Shell acknowledged around the same time—in a document purportedly outlining its own net-zero strategy—that it plans to explore new extraction projects until 2025.

Moreover, in an attempt to capitalize on Russia's war on Ukraine, which has thrown Europe's energy market into disarray, Shell has been lobbying the U.K. government to let it drill a new offshore gas field in the North Sea.

"I can no longer work for a company that ignores all the alarms and dismisses the risks of climate change and ecological collapse," wrote Dennett.

On LinkedIn, Dennett encouraged Shell's leadership "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. "

"We must end all new extraction projects immediately and rapidly transition away from fossil fuels, and toward clean renewable energy sources," she added. "Shell should be using all its capital, technical, and human power to lead this transition, but they have no plan to do this."

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