(Bloomberg) -- The Netherlands’ advertising watchdog ruled for the fourth time this year that an ad campaign by Shell Plc about its efforts to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions is misleading and must be pulled from circulation.
Shell’s advertisements say customers can pay extra when they buy fuels in order to “compensate” for the pollution generated by those products. The campaign is itself a reboot after the regulator ruled last year that ads saying Shell customers could “drive CO2 neutral” were misleading.
“Just like CO2 neutral, CO2 compensation is an absolute environmental claim, and absolute environmental claims are subject to a strict burden of proof,” the Advertising Code Committee said in a statement. “Shell has no way of demonstrating that CO2 compensation by protecting forests or planting trees eliminates the climate damage of petrol.”
It’s the fourth time this year the committee accused Shell of overstating its green credentials in promotional campaigns. Shell has two weeks to appeal the decision, which is not legally binding, after which the committee will publish a final ruling.
In response, a company spokesperson said carbon offsetting is recognized globally as a tool for preventing and reducing emissions, and Dutch consumers understand that carbon-dioxide compensation doesn’t eliminate all adverse climate effects. The company is considering its next steps.
The energy giant, like many peers, is under intense scrutiny over its energy-transition plans, which the company claims will produce more low-carbon fuels and slash greenhouse-gas emissions. A big part of Shell’s plans relies on what it calls “nature-based solutions,” such as planting trees, reforesting and restoring land to offset industrial emissions.
Criticism of Shell’s environmental impact has been particularly strong in The Netherlands, its country of origin, where a court ordered the company last year to reduce carbon emissions by 45% over the next decade, a much faster pace than it planned.
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