Shell’s clean energy advertising campaign is misleading, UK watchdog says

Jun 7, 2023, 6:03 AM | Updated: 8:52 am

FILE - A Shell logo is displayed at a gas station in London, on March 8, 2022. A marketing campaign...

FILE - A Shell logo is displayed at a gas station in London, on March 8, 2022. A marketing campaign by oil major Shell was banned by the U.K.'s advertising watchdog Wednesday, June 7, 2023, for implying a big proportion of its business was in low carbon energy even though fossil fuels make up the “vast majority” of its operations. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)

(AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)

LONDON (AP) — A marketing campaign by oil major Shell has been banned by the U.K.’s advertising watchdog Wednesday for implying a big proportion of its business was in low carbon energy even though fossil fuels make up the “vast majority” of its operations.

A television commercial, a YouTube video and a poster campaign in Bristol, England, variously described providing large numbers of British homes with 100% renewable energy, installing electric vehicle charging points and driving the energy transition.

In its written ruling the Advertising Standards Authority found consumers would interpret the marketing materials as making a “broader claim about Shell as a whole providing cleaner energy.”

Although Shell does have a clean energy business, the company estimates its operations released almost 1.4 billion tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in 2021.

In a statement, Shell spokesperson Tara Lemay said the company “strongly” disagrees with the ASA’s decision, “which could slow the U.K.’s drive toward renewable energy.”

Campaign group Adfree Cities had filed a complaint to the ASA about the commercials, arguing they left out significant information about Shell’s overall environmental impact. It also argued the claim that 78,000 homes in the southwest of England and 1.4 million homes across the U.K. use 100% clean energy from Shell was misleading.

The ASA’s ruling said the campaign gave the impression that “low-carbon energy products comprised a significant proportion of the energy products Shell invested in and sold in the UK in 2022, or were likely to do so in the near future.”

It also found Shell had proven its claims to provide 100% renewable power to many British homes, and that part of the complaint was not upheld.

The watchdog ordered Shell not to run the campaign again in its current form.

Adfree Cities campaigner Veronica Wignall, who led the complaint, said the ruling “marks the end of the line for fossil fuel greenwashing in the U.K.,” but added that the ruling “doesn’t go far enough.”

She called for robust legislation to stop fossil fuel advertising.

But Shell’s Lemay argued that “people are already well aware that Shell produces the oil and gas they depend on today.”

Lemay cited a survey of 1,700 British adults that found 83% associated the company with gas stations.

“What many people don’t know is we’re also investing heavily in low and zero-carbon energy,” she said. “That is what our adverts set out to show, and that is why we’re concerned by this short-sighted decision.”

Shell previously faced claims of greenwashing in promotional materials. In 2021, the Dutch advertising watchdog told the company to stop running a campaign saying its fuel was carbon neutral, a claim based on its offset program.


Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.


Associated Press

Azerbaijan claims full control over the Nagorno-Karabakh region as Armenian forces agree to disarm

YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — Azerbaijan claimed full control of the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region Wednesday after local Armenian forces there agreed to lay down their weapons following the latest outbreak of fighting in the decades-long separatist conflict. Authorities in the ethnic Armenian region that has run its affairs without international recognition since fighting broke out in […]

1 day ago

Associated Press

Stock market today: Wall Street falls after the Federal Reserve warns rates may stay higher in 2024

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks slumped Wednesday after the Federal Reserve said it may not cut interest rates next year by as much as it earlier thought, regardless of how much Wall Street wants it. The S&P 500 fell 41.75, or 0.9%, to 4,402.20. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 76.85, or 0.2%, to […]

1 day ago

Helmut Kramer poses for a portrait in Santiago, Chile, Thursday, July 27, 2023. Kramer, 53, said he...

Associated Press

In Chile, justice eludes victims of Catholic clergy sex abuse years after the crisis exploded

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Soon after she learned what happened, Helmut Kramer’s mother grabbed a pair of scissors and cut the priest out of photographs from her son’s baptism. “She kept the photos after that,” said Kramer, who was sexually abused at age 12 in a Jesuit school in Antofagasta, a city in northern Chile. […]

1 day ago

Associated Press

A Moscow court declines to hear an appeal by jailed US journalist Evan Gershkovich

MOSCOW (AP) — Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich appeared Tuesday in Moscow City Court, seeking release from jail on espionage charges, but it declined to hear his appeal and returned the case to a lower court to deal with unspecified procedural violations. The decision means Gershkovich, 31, will remain jailed at least until Nov. […]

2 days ago

Rescuers and relatives of victims set up tents in front of collapsed buildings in Derna, Libya, Mon...

Associated Press

Libyan leader says flooded city has been divided to create buffers in case of disease outbreaks

DERNA, Libya (AP) — Authorities have divided Libya’s flood-stricken city of Derna into four sections to create buffers in case of disease outbreaks, the prime minister of Libya’s eastern administration said Tuesday, a day after thousands of angry protesters demanded the city’s rapid reconstruction. Last week, two dams collapsed during Mediterranean storm Daniel, sending a […]

2 days ago

Associated Press

Stock market today: Asian shares decline ahead of Fed decision on rates

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares declined Wednesday as markets awaited a decision on interest rates by the Federal Reserve. Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.1% in morning trading to 33,200.34. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.6% to 7,152.70. South Korea’s Kospi edged down 0.1% to 2,556.20. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dipped 0.4% to 17,932.24, while the Shanghai […]

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Shell’s clean energy advertising campaign is misleading, UK watchdog says