Colossal fossil Shell got more than it bargained for earlier this week when it launched a Twitter poll aiming to reinforce the fossil-driven frame that the solutions to the climate crisis are all about lifestyles and personal choice.
“On Monday, Shell put a poll on Twitter, asking ‘What are you willing to change to help reduce emissions’?” Grist reports. “The options: Offset your emissions, stop flying, buy an electric car, or choose renewable electricity.”
For Shell, the Dutch/British company that promised earlier this year to become a “net-zero carbon company by 2050”, but did not commit to stop drilling for new oil and gas, the PR stunt did not end well. “The responses quickly got out of hand, with the company hiding at least 20 outraged comments,” Grist writes.
“The audacity of Shell asking YOU what YOU’RE willing to do to reduce emissions,” tweeted U.S. Rep. and Green New Deal co-author Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). “I’m willing to hold you accountable for lying about climate change for 30 years when you secretly knew the entire time that fossil fuels emissions would destroy our planet.”
“I don’t know about you, but I sure am willing to call-out-the-fossil-fuel-companies-for-knowingly-destroying-future-living-conditions-for-countless-generations-for profit-and-then-trying-to-distract-people-and-prevent-real-systemic-change-through-endless greenwash-campaigns,” agreed #FridaysforFuture founder Greta Thunberg.
“Royal Dutch Shell is #6 on the list of 90 companies responsible for 2/3 of greenhouse gas emissions since the dawn of the industrial era. Their cumulative emissions equal those of the country of Canada,” wrote Texas climate scientist Prof. Katharine Hayhoe.
“I’m very very VERY willing to live in a world without the Shell Corporation, ExxonMobil and all their ilk. #greenwashing #endfossilfuel,” added @summerstweet66.
“I am willing to change international law to have @IntlCrimCourt @IntCrimDatabase prosecute organized crime, corp leaders & politicians causing ext damage to our env for criminal acts of #ecocide,” tweeted @GChamberlainAZ.
Shell responded that “changing the energy system requires everyone to play their part. That’s what today’s #EnergyDebate was about. As for our part, we said last week that Shell will reshape its portfolio of assets and products to meet the cleaner energy needs of its customers in the coming decades.”
As recently as mid-October, 2019, CEO Ben van Beurden was telling Reuters his company had “no choice” but to keep investing in new fossil projects.
“We know a Twitter dragging might look like ‘slacktivism,’” wrote climate justice reporters Mary Annaïse Heglar and Amy Westervelt. “But keep in mind that social licence is a huge deal to oil companies, so getting massively ratioed tells them that licence is evaporating. Twitter is a huge arena. Even if most human beings aren’t on it, what happens there is news. And it’s important that oil companies aren’t able to greenwash on Twitter uncontested. Shell shouldn’t get to set the whole world on fire and then waltz onto social media like shit is sweet.”
Among the 199 people who responded to Shell’s poll, 44.7% said they would adopt renewable electricity, 25.6% intended to buy an electric vehicle, 23.1% wanted to offset their emissions, and 6.5% said they would stop flying.