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Shell Knew It Was Contributing to Climate Change in 1988, Documents Show

Royal Dutch Shell documents reveal the oil and gas company recognized in 1988 that it was contributing to climate change—and how difficult it would be to reverse course, according to The Washington Post. In a report called “The Greenhouse Effect,” which was unearthed this week by a Dutch journalist, the company’s Greenhouse Effect Working Group calculated that Shell was “contributing 4 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions through its oil, natural gas and coal products.” The report also noted that “by the time global warming becomes detectable it could be too late to take effective countermeasures to reduce the effects or even to stabilize the situation.” The report, written by members of the working group, predicted the effects would become noticeable in the “the 20th or early 21st century.” The group’s projections were far-reaching, with warnings about the social and political consequences of climate change, as well as the dangers posed by rising sea levels. In the 1990s, Shell had publicly “raised doubts about the science of climate change” and opposed the Kyoto Protocol, The Washington Post reported. “We strongly support the Paris Agreement and the need for society to transition to a lower carbon future, while also extending the economic and social benefits of energy to everyone,” the company told the newspaper.