Shell’s ironic vision of carbon capture

Shell’s Mad Men win the 2008 award for the most unintentionally ironic greenwashing ad. On Monday (and again today), Shell ran a full page ad in the Washington Post on carbon capture with this image:


Yes, Shell is apparently trying to catch CO2 with a net! Let’s hope they have better luck than either the Bush administration (see “In seeming flipflop, Bush drops mismanaged ‘NeverGen’ clean coal project“) or the rest of the world (see “Is coal with carbon capture and storage a core climate solution?“).

Here is the full text of the ad (online here), which has an unintentionally amusing headline:

In the new energy future, we’ll need to think the impossible is possible.

The world needs to tackle CO2 emissions. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology aims to capture CO2 and stored safely underground.

We are working on several different projects around the world, including CO2SINK in Ketzin, Germany, a demonstration facility that is operated in collaboration with the European Union.

Perfecting CCS won’t be easy, but we believe it is needed to tackle CO2 emissions.

To find out how Shell is helping prepare for the new energy future, visit,

[Note to Shell: Please pick one mixed metaphor and stick with it. Are you trying to depict the implausibility of large scale CO2 capture by using the metaphor of a butterfly net or by (twice) using the equally absurd football metaphor of trying to “tackle” CO2.]

As their website makes clear, Shell is helping prepare for the new energy future with a bunch of cute little graphics. Now if they would only explain how CCS could reduce emissions from their product or, better yet, figure out how to make a profit selling something that won’t ruin the health and well-being of the next 50 generations.

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2 Responses to Shell’s ironic vision of carbon capture

  1. jorleh says:

    For sure there are idiots in the oil company. But most people are idiots, too. They think: fine, Shell is doing the right thing, we are safe. Thanks for Shell!

  2. WorldsTopHypocrite? says:

    My personal favorite bit of Shell greenwashing is their happytalk claims about the tomato greenhouse that uses CO2 emissions from a Rotterdam refinery. CO2 being absorbed by the tomatoes, isn’t that marvelous?

    Let’s see, how long is that sequestration time we need (centuries to millenia)? How long till that tomato CO2 is released to the atmosphere (days to weeks)?

    Let’s all sleep happy thinking of Shell as a wonderful eco-friendly partner.