Shell's new venture raises eyebrows with its climate tech façade

Shell has unveiled Onward, a startup it claims will propel the energy sector toward a greener future. However, critics argue it's a clever disguise for continuing oil and gas operations.

Molly Taft reports for The Guardian in partnership with Drilled.


In short:

  • Onward, backed by Shell, promises to connect innovators for tackling energy and climate challenges, yet focuses significantly on oil and gas projects.
  • Despite Shell's investment in low-carbon solutions, Onward's job board predominantly lists roles enhancing fossil fuel production.
  • Experts criticize these efforts as greenwashing, highlighting the contradiction between Shell's public climate commitments and its business practices.

Key quote:

"It’s a Trojan horse of legitimacy. You’re under cover of the idea that the climate movement is an all-hands-on-deck situation, but what you’re really doing is bringing in players who have very different ideas of what it means to ‘solve’ the climate crisis."

— Melissa Aronczyk, professor of journalism and media at Rutgers University.

Why this matters:

While Shell's Onward initiative presents a forward-thinking image, the focus on oil and gas raises concerns about the sincerity of such climate tech ventures, especially when global climate authorities call for a halt in fossil fuel exploration to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change.

Community advocates tasked with spending $5 million in fines from Shell’s industrial air pollution are determined not to let the oil company take credit for the projects.

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