Shell prohibits “greenwashing” in the UK

Shell prohibits “greenwashing” in the UK

legalJun 7 23:20 16:20Authors: ANP and Dean van Essen

The UK’s advertising regulator has labeled ads from some major oil producers as greenwashing. This means that these companies pretend to be more sustainable than they actually are. Ads by Shell, Spain’s Repsol and Malaysia’s Petronas are now banned in the UK. Advertisements promote investments in renewable energy without mentioning the extent of polluting activities.

A climate activist holds a banner as he demonstrates outside ExCeL in London during the annual general meeting of oil and gas multinational Shell on May 23, 2023. (ANP/AFP)

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ASA CEO Guy Parker said companies in high-carbon sectors “need to be really careful with their environmental messaging”. According to Parker, companies need to give consumers some information to get the story on the other side.

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All campaigns targeted by the General Authority of Civil Aviation emphasized the aspirations of oil companies in the field of renewable energy. For example, Petronas advertised in a television advertisement “Enriching Lives for a Sustainable Future,” without mentioning the large carbon dioxide emissions it causes. In the case of Spanish oil giant Repsol, it was an advertisement on the Financial Times website touting investments in biofuels and synthetic fuels. These investments represent only a portion of the company’s business, according to the ASA.


Shell ran a poster campaign, a YouTube video, and a TV commercial that featured the phrase “cleaner energy”. According to the regulator, this was misleading because it ignored the fact that the vast majority of Shell’s activities consist of oil and gas. In the Netherlands, Shell has been reprimanded several times in the past year by the Advertising Code Commission for misleading advertising.

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A Shell spokesperson said it disagreed with the ASA’s decision. People already know very well that Shell produces the oil and gas they depend on today. But what many people don’t know is that we’re also investing heavily in low-carbon, zero-carbon energy. According to the spokesperson, the energy transition cannot be successful if consumers are not aware of the available alternatives.

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