Advocacy group Environmental Defence has taken aim at Susannah Pierce — the president of Shell Canada Limited — for her actions detrimental to the state of the planet.
When Pierce was labeled September’s “Climate Villain of the Month,” Environmental Defence said the “ruthless greenwasher” had been distracting governments and global citizens with talk of decarbonization while still expanding oil and gas extraction.
In a campaign that profiles the top seven climate villains in Canada, Pierce joins Brad Corson, president and CEO of Imperial Oil, and Arthur Irving, president and director of Irving Oil, as the first three people profiled in detail for blocking climate action.
Environmental Defence criticizes Pierce for defending the dirty-fuel industry from responsibility for the overheating of our planet. According to the Government of Canada, oil and gas combined are the nation’s biggest source of planet-warming pollution.
Ahead of the 24th World Petroleum Congress in Calgary, Pierce was featured in an article published in The Canadian Press in which she deflected blame from the sector for slow decarbonization practices, saying it can only go as fast as the rest of the world’s economy.
“We’re still a very largely fossil fuels-based economy, if you look across the various different sectors,” Pierce told the CBC. “The speed at which we can move, is going to be the speed by which each of those components move together.”
She also criticized Canada’s incoming cap on pollution from the dirty-fuel industry, which she believes will harm profitability, which in theory, could lead to better low-carbon initiatives.
According to Environmental Defence, she consistently tries to rebrand fracked gas as “liquified natural gas,” even though it is still predominantly methane, a potent gas contributing to the warming of the planet (as The Narwhal explains).
Environmental Defence also pointed out she has been publicly promoting Shell’s supposed net-zero targets, despite the company saying in a 2020 internal memo — unearthed by a U.S. congressional investigation into climate disinformation — that it has “no immediate plans to move to a net-zero emissions portfolio over our investment horizon of 10-20 years.”
Why are Pierce’s actions so concerning?
As one of the most senior individuals in perhaps the most polluting industry on the planet, it’s disheartening to hear excuses and blame-shifting for why practices can’t be improved for environmental benefit.
Meanwhile, stating intended positive climate actions while not actually engaging in them is greenwashing at the highest level, deceiving the public and causing more environmental damage.
If we are to slow the rate of temperature increases that lead to extreme weather events, rising sea levels, declining freshwater supplies, habitat loss, and lower crop harvesting, the oil and gas industry must take action and accept responsibility for exacerbating the issue.
What can be done to put pressure on the industry?
Environmental Defence calls on readers to sign a petition to tell the Canadian government to listen to the calls of citizens for more responsible climate action rather than prioritizing dirty-fuel profits.
But small steps in your day-to-day life can be helpful, too. Moving away from reliance on oil and gas is a great way to start, so driving an electric car — or not using a car at all, when possible — and making the most of clean energy sources like solar and wind power can reduce the demand for dirty fuels.
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