Shell: Violating Paris Climate Accord (2018) By. Matt Greer
|Royal Dutch Shell's logo|
The problem for Shell is that there are environmental groups in the Netherlands claiming that they will call them to court if they do not change the way they run their business to meet the standards that Paris holds in the Paris Climate Accord. This group already has 13,000 signatures on a petition from the Netherlands alone. The group of activists are accusing them of "deliberately obstructing" efforts to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius, the key goal of the Paris agreement.” (CNN) they are being accused of purposefully not following the guidelines set by Paris in order to protect the environment and keep the air clean. Shell is also known for being among the top 100 fossil fuel producers collectively responsible for 71 percent of greenhouse gas emissions since 1988.
Shell is denying what they are being accused of and is saying how they really support the agreement and follow it heavily, but the activists are not buying what they are saying and think they are releasing an unhealthy amount of fossil fuel into the atmosphere. The company has stated that "There are no concrete plans to align its business strategy with the commitments contained in the agreement," which was stated by their director of operations in Netherlands, Joris Thijssen.
The lawsuit that is trying to be settled is that Shell is responsible for the climate change and other damages to the environment that have happened in recent years, this would be devastating to their company if found guilty because this would deem their company unethical and would affect public relations and the consumers may not trust them as much as they used to. A rival company aligned their business plan with the Paris Accord so this could help their company in the public eye, if some people see other companies making a switch, it could persuade Shells customers to take their business elsewhere. For now, Shell has refused to align their plan with the groups and what they want but for the future they need to think about the end result of these decisions that they are making because they don’t want to lose customers because they refuse to go green.
|Previous Oil spill problem Shell faced in Nigeria|
There are a lot of stakeholders in this situation, some include the company, their shareholders, green peace, friends of earth, and other climate activist groups, and the people and communities being affected by pollution. The company would be affected because they would lose money and it is their company that is being hurt by these accusations. Another group being affected is the groups that are approaching Shell because they are the ones putting the lawsuit out and the ones that really want to see a change and putting their name out there to take down a giant in the oil industry in order to help the environment. The world is the biggest people being affected by this situation because that is what the emissions are affecting, and the people are having their atmosphere and environment around them hurt and it is negatively affecting their lives.
To start with the ethical theory analysis, we will start by talking about individualism. The definition of the theory Individualism goes as follows “business actions should maximize profits for the owners of a business, but do so within the law.” (Salazar, 17) Under this definition an individualist would agree with this case and it would conform because Shell is thinking about what is best for their company profit wise. There has been no proof by the activists that Shell is breaking any laws, which keeps them in the eyes of an activist as doing the right thing and they can continue to run their operations the way they have been. Another idea of an individualist would say that they don’t care if the people are mad at how they run their business because they shouldn’t want to buy from them because they are ecofriendly and care about the environment, they should want to buy from their company because they have good product.
The next theory that will be analyzed is a Utilitarian view, this view is “Business actions should aim to maximize the happiness in the long run for all conscious beings that are affected by the business action.” (Salazar, 19) If your decisions that are made show that you had the happiness of the people in mind then the decision should be considered ethical. Along with happiness, they also look at the consequences that come following the act or decision that is made, Shell should think more about the harm of their product before refusing to adjust to the cleaner alternative. The way for them to conform with this theory would be that they need to switch their energy sources to a renewable type and get rid of the dangerous fossil fuels that they use. This would make the groups such as green peace, friends of earth, etc. happy and it would also make the many people that signed their petition against the Shell organization, while it would affect their own business because they would have to spend more money it would ultimately make the people happy and even help their business get the customers back that have left because they didn’t like their business processes.
Another theory to be looked at is Kantian business ethics, and this theory wants you to access your goodwill and do what is right because you know it is the right thing to do. This theory does not conform with the Shell case because Shell is motivated by money and it seems that nothing more matters to them, this would mean that their motivations are negative, and they are only thinking about themselves and don’t necessarily care about what is right. A big part of this ethical theory is the formula of humanity which is the idea that you must treat people the way you would treat humanity and “it prohibits our use of other people without the consent of their ration” (Salazar, 9), and never treat someone as a means to an end. A mean is something or someone you view as valuable because it will get you something valuable in return, and example of this is that Shell sees its customers as means because they see them as money since they will be buying their product. A Kantian would be concerned with the way Shell is running their business and Kantian wouldn’t view this based off of the result and damages that happened because of Shells actions, they would view it based off of the intent of the business and whether they had good intentions when deciding to stick with fossil fuels instead of a cleaner alternative. This is why a Kantian would struggle supporting Shell, because they do not have good intentions with their actions.
Virtue theory focuses on a persons character and then decides whether they are virtuous or not. Virtue theory is very different from the other theories because unlike the others where they analyze individuals, virtue focuses on a person’s character and they analyze this based on four main virtues, these are courage, honesty, self-control, and fairness. Based on these character traits Shell oil failed to conform with the virtue theory.
Shell failed to reach these characteristics, to start with courage they showed very little courage because they refused to switch their business model because they were afraid of losing profit, so they didn’t want to advance and make the people happy by trying to make a switch. This shows lack of courage because they did not want to risk switching over and possibly losing money
Shell also showed lack of honesty because they will never own up to the damages, they cause to the environment around them, they continue to lie and say they are doing nothing wrong and lying that they support the Paris accord when they know that they are clearly not in the lines of the accord.
They show selfishness with the decisions that they make constantly and show little self-control because when they see an opportunity to profit, they take it, no matter the damages that follow.
They have shown countless times that when they are around, they cause damage, with the contamination of the delta in Nigeria, now these accusations of polluting the air in Europe
Shell does not show justice because they treat the activists as a bug on a windshield and just find them annoying and tedious, when in reality they are doing what is right for the world and they just want to see Shell make changes to support their cause. Shell prohibits flourishing for anybody but their company and other oil giants that have the same views as Shell, so they are clearly did not conform to virtue theory and they have little respect for the outside world that doesn’t correlate to their direct business.
|Oil infested water due to Shell|
When activist groups in the past have approached Shell, they were unphased and were easily able to get out of the charges and convince everyone into saying that they were not the cause of the damages that followed their business operating in the area. However, this case is a little bit different then the other cases because they are being accused of violating a signed document for all of Europe and this is where Shell’s problem lies. Since they have chosen to run their business the way they have, they have backed themselves into a corner and are going to have an uphill battle if they are going to continue to try and act like this instead of adhering to the changes that have been suggested. In my opinion they need to figure out a way for them to act rationally, ethically, and figure out a way for them to make the people happy while continuing their profiting ways which could be tricky for them in the situation that they put themselves in.
|Article of the current issue|
If I were to have the chance to rewrite their mission statement it would be along the lines of “As a global company we will set a high standard to keep the environment cleaner and make a push to a cleaner source of energy that will benefit the world we live in while we continue to be ethical and run an honest business.” This is similar to their actual mission statement while also emphasizing the importance of keeping a cleaner source of energy. This will keep them honest and they need to get the trust back with the customers that have switched to other companies due to the lack of care shown by Shell. Some core values that Shell should emphasize while going through this transformation process would be Caring, Safety, and Customer satisfaction.
These values and mission statement mean nothing if they are not enforced by the company itself and they need to really focus on implementing these values in rather than just saying them or else they are just words on a page, and it shows lack of integrity to the people viewing your business.
- “Climate Groups Threaten Lawsuit to Force Shell to Ditch Oil.” Royal Dutch Shell Group .Com, 12 Feb. 2019, royaldutchshellgroup.com/2019/02/12/climate-groups-threaten-lawsuit-to-force-shell-to-ditch-oil/.
- "Climate Groups Threaten Lawsuit to Force Shell to Ditch Oil.” WGNO, 12 Feb. 2019, wgno.com/2019/02/12/climate-groups-threaten-lawsuit-to-force-shell-to-ditch-oil/ Kottasová, Ivana."
- Climate Groups Threaten Lawsuit to Force Shell to Ditch Oil.” CNN, Cable News Network, 12 Feb. 2019, www.cnn.com/2019/02/12/business/climate-change-shell-oil/index.html.
- Mooney, Chris, and Dino Grandoni. “New York City Sues Shell, ExxonMobil and Other Oil Companies over Climate Change.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 10 Jan. 2018, www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2018/01/10/new-york-city-sues-shell-exxonmobil-and-other-oil-majors-over-climate-change/?utm_term=.f8274dd57818.
- "Our Values.” Shell Global, www.shell.com/about-us/our-values.html.
- Watts, Jonathan. “Shell Threatened with Legal Action over Climate Change Contributions.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 4 Apr. 2018, www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/04/friends-of-the-earth-threatens-to-sue-shell-over-climate-change-contributions.