According to The Independent, Shell joins fellow oil giant Exxon Mobile as the second oil company whose internal documents reveal that climate change and global warming were known concerns as far back as 1988.
Newly uncovered documentation shows that the company believed its products responsible for 4 percent of global carbon emissions in 1984 and predicted that sea level and weather changes would be “larger than any that have occurred over the past 12,000 years” as a result of global warming.
As a result, the documents foresee impacts on living standards, food supplies and other major social, political and economic consequences.
In The Greenhouse Effect, a 1988 internal report by Shell scientists, the authors warned that “by the time the global warming becomes detectable it could be too late to take effective countermeasures to reduce the effects or even to stabilise the situation”.
They also acknowledged that many experts predicted an increase in global temperature would be detectable by the end of the century.
The reports also recommend swift action be taken to mitigate the effects of global warming rather than waiting until it's too late:
They went on to state that a “forward-looking approach by the energy industry is clearly desirable”, adding: “With the very long time scales involved, it would be tempting for society to wait until then before doing anything.
“The potential implications for the world are, however, so large that policy options need to be considered much earlier. And the energy industry needs to consider how it should play its part.”
Climate and energy journalist Jelmer Mommersfor the Dutch news organisation De Correspondent discovered the documents, which have been published on the Climate Files website.
Also included in the find is a 1994 document revealing that Shell changed course in its stance on climate change, expressing hesitation regarding the field and saying “any policy measure should take into account explicitly the weaknesses in the scientific case”.
Shell issued the following statement after the documents were made public:
“The Shell Group’s position on climate change has been a matter of public record for decades.
“We strongly support the Paris Agreement and the need for society to transition to a lower carbon future, while also extending the economic and social benefits of energy to everyone. Successfully navigating this dual challenge requires sound government policy and cultural change to drive low-carbon choices for businesses and consumers. It requires cooperation between all segments of society.”