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Climate Change

No, A Tanker Full Of Fossil Fuels Isn’t “Carbon Neutral.” That’s Not How It Works.

Shell recently announced a special “carbon neutral” shipment of fracked gas to Europe. Although there’s nothing unique about the liquified natural gas, Shell and its supplier, Cheniere, are somehow marketing the shipping of fossil fuels as carbon neutral. You can’t make this up.

In an article published by Salon, the author analyzed Shell’s shenanigans and those of a few other corporations that are practically pulling the strings of government in order to continue to produce fossil fuels that are still heating up our planet.

The article pointed out that this isn’t the only time the fossil fuel industry has marketed shipping fossil fuels as carbon neutral. Occidental Petroleum sold a shipload of crude oil while claiming it was 100% “carbon neutral.”

The author of the article asked a very important question:

“How exactly does a massive shipment of crude oil, or fossil gas fracked in the United States and shipped across the Atlantic, manage to get a ‘carbon neutral’ label?”

It doesn’t matter if there were no greenhouse gas emissions produced with the drilling or if these gases were somehow absorbed or even canceled out. These are fossil fuel companies producing materials that, once used, will contribute to the warming and pollution of our planet. This is not how carbon neutrality works and if I’m wrong on this, then we need another plan.

Analyzing Shell

The author noted that Shell’s “carbon neutral” liquefied natural gas is an example of using credits to cancel out emissions. Where do the credits come from and how do they actually work? Shell claimed on its website that one product here in Louisiana, The GreenTrees initiative, has protected 120,000 acres and planted over 40 million trees. However, Bloomberg found out that Shell was paying landowners to do things they were already doing such as planting trees or not cutting down existing ones. This creates those carbon credits that Shell and other corporations tout as proof of their “carbon neutrality.”

Selling credits to “plant trees” that were going to be planted any, in my opinion, doesn’t really count as offsetting carbon. Salon explored other similar corporations that are doing the same thing and noted that in California, the multibillion-dollar forest offsets program had millions of “ghost credits” that were purchased by polluters to enable them to keep operating as usual.

I’ve heard of the term, fake it till you make it, but I don’t think this would help prevent climate change. We can’t pretend that it’s not 118°F in Siberia or that Antarctica isn’t melting. We can’t pretend that we have clean air. We can’t afford to let the fossil fuel industry fake carbon neutrality just so it can keep producing.

I mean, the whole point in reducing greenhouse gas emissions focuses on reducing the stuff we use that makes those emissions. That stuff is what Shell and other fossil fuel giants are shipping and selling. Instead of exploring viable solutions such as renewables, these companies are trying to keep the status quo while paying off local, state, and federal governments and other organizations for the shiny green label of “carbon neutral.” That’s not cool.

You can read the full Salon article here.

Image by Sekau67 from Pixabay

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