Environment

Shell consultant quits with explosive LinkedIn post accusing oil giant of 'extreme harms' to planet

Caroline Dennett told The Big Issue: "If all it does is just push people to have a conversation that they've been wanting to have, but didn't know how to have, I'll be very happy."

Caroline accused Shell of causing "extreme harm" to the planet. (Image: Caroline Dennett)

A senior consultant has quit working with Shell and accused the oil giant of causing “extreme harms” to the planet in a scathing open letter posted on LinkedIn.

Caroline Dennett, a former safety adviser, also called on employees of the company to “exit the industry” and told Shell executives and management to “look in the mirror and ask themselves if they really believe their vision for more oil & gas extraction secures a safe future for humanity”.

Dennett claimed in the open letter published on the social media platform that the oil company is planning to explore and extract more oil and gas, contrary “to Shell’s public expressions around Net Zero”.

Shell denied the allegations, saying the public should “be in no doubt” that the company has “every intention” of hitting its net zero target by 2050.

Shell has made a commitment to reduce its “absolute” greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2030 compared to 2016 levels, as well as committing to an overall net zero by 2050 target. 

Speaking to The Big issue, Dennett said she felt unable to work with the company any longer after being asked to work on new construction projects being planned.

She said: “For me, that was a trigger, of just seeing that this wasn’t just existing operations I was seeing through but working on new ones. After I came out of that I just thought ‘I can’t do this’.”

Dennett’s letter claims Shell has a “disregard” for climate change risks and is “failing” on its Goal Zero safety ambition to “do no harm”.

“Shell is fully aware that their continued oil & gas extraction and expansion projects are causing extreme harms, to our climate, environment, nature and to people,” the letter reads.

“I can no longer work for a company that ignores all the alarms and dismisses the risks of climate change and ecological collapse.”

Dennett said she hoped the letter would both raise awareness around climate change and hold Shell’s leaders accountable, as well as encouraging others to leave the industry if they can.

“I don’t know what impact this action will have on my business and career, and it’s possible my reputation may be damaged in the eyes of people I have worked with. However, I feel like there is no other choice I can make. Join me, and exit the industry if you can,” the letter adds.

Dennett told The Big Issue she’s had positive reactions online, but she’s heard little from within the company.

“It’s lifted the lid on something often left unspoken”, she said. “If all it does is just push people to have a conversation that they’ve been wanting to have, but didn’t know how to have, I’ll be very happy,” she added.

Dennett also posted a screenshot of an email which she claims to have sent to Shell executives and employees stating her reasons for severing ties. In the email she accused Shell of “failing on a planetary scale” to avoid harm to the planet. 

Shell denied allegations that it was not committed to its climate targets. A spokesperson said: “Be in no doubt, we are determined to deliver on our global strategy to be a net zero company by 2050 and thousands of our people are working hard to achieve this.

“We have set targets for the short, medium and long term, and have every intention of hitting them. We’re already investing billions of dollars in low-carbon energy, although the world will still need oil and gas for decades to come in sectors that can’t be easily decarbonized.”

Shell, along with other oil and gas companies, have faced controversy in recent weeks over bumper profits during the energy crisis.

The companies have faced calls for a windfall tax on these profits as the cost of living continues to rise. 

Due to the cost of wholesale energy spiking globally, oil and gas companies have made record profits worth billions of pounds. Shell was also revealed to have paid no tax on its 2021 profits.

Meanwhile, millions of households in the UK have been plunged into fuel poverty following a steep increase in the energy price cap in April. 

The government has repeatedly flip-flopped over the idea of introducing a windfall tax, with some ministers fearing such a move would deter investment in the UK.

This is despite the head of BP saying a windfall tax wouldn’t steer the company’s investment plans in Britain. 

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