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Shell forced to answer tough questions on environment, ethics and governance at AGM



Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell faced questions on remuneration, climate change and its ethical standards from shareholders and protesters at its annual general meeting (AGM) on Tuesday in The Hague.

Around 7% of Shell’s shareholders failed to back both its remuneration report and bonuses offered to top executives through the company’s long-term incentive plan. The discontent is likely to be linked to Shell issuing a profit warning in January.

However, much of the discussion at the AGM focussed on Shell’s stance on climate change and its ethical record. Charity Global Witness raised the issue of corruption in Nigeria and the company’s lobbying against transparency laws.

The question focused on a deal, which allegedly saw $1.1 billion (£650 million) diverted into the hands of a former Nigerian oil minister for oil block OPL 245, of which Shell owns 50%. The deal could now be cancelled after the Nigerian House of Representatives condemned the lack of transparency and said it was “contrary to the laws of Nigeria”.

Whilst the value of the block has been unconfirmed, it is thought to be of “considerable future value” and it is likely that the companies involved have invested millions in developing it.

Brendan O’Donnell, oil campaigner at Global Witness, said, “Investors need to know what’s at stake. This deal is being investigated in several countries and there’s a threat of cancellation. Secret payments and shadowy deals are not just bad for people in developing countries, they’re bad business.”

Global Witness said Shell had failed to answer fundamental questions about the OPL 245 deal at the AGM. It also added that the disclosure at the meeting that Shell has lobbied prime ministers in the Netherlands and UK about the EU transparency legislation was “concerning”.

A trio of protesters – ShareAction, Greenpeace and Platform – also targeted Shell over its environmental stance, including its intention to drill in the Arctic once legal and regulatory issues have been resolved.

Louise Rouse, ShareAction’s director of engagement, said, “There are still to many unanswered questions about Shell’s ability to manage the perfect storm of risks that operating in the US Arctic Ocean presents.”

Ahead of the AGM, Shell released a letter to shareholders saying it did not believe any of its proven fossil fuel reserves will become ‘stranded’ as a result of current or foreseeable future legislation. The company argued that when you take growing energy demand and an increasing population into account, fossil fuels would be needed in the decades to come.

In response to this, the Carbon Tracker initiative issued a statement saying, “Shell does not explain how it is solving the contradiction between the prediction of high oil demand and its acceptance of the need to address climate change.

“Carbon Tracker argues that high-cost production and growing oil demand assumptions are inconsistent with a more resilient global economy and stable global climate.

Friends of the Earth also stated that Shell is particularly at risk from a carbon bubble because of high carbon projects in its pipeline, such as tar sands.

Asad Rehman, Friends of the Earth climate campaigner, commented, “By ignoring the carbon bubble Shell is pulling a bigger confidence trick than those who brought down the financial system – they are trying to pass off a losing situation as being a sound financial investments to their investors.

“If they continue to downplay the carbon bubble, Shell jeopardises ordinary people’ hard-earned pension pots and leaves billions of people facing devastating climate change.”

Photo: Mike Mozart via Flickr  

Further reading:

Shell letter to shareholders: fossil fuels will not create ‘carbon bubble’

Nigerian community takes Shell to court over oil spills

Shell suspends Arctic oil drilling plans

Shell’s grounded oil rig due to inadequate plans

Oil giants Shell, Total and Exxon report falling profits in Q3


These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money




eco-friendly green offices
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Stokkete |

The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.

Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.

Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.

Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale

The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.

Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.

Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI

It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.

Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.

Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.

Implementing green changes without a plan

Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.

Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:

  • How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
  • How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
  • How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
  • How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?

The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.

Not considering the benefits of green printing

Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.

Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.

According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:

  • They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
  • They consume less energy than traditional printers.
  • They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.

You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.

Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers

Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.

The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.

You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.

Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.

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Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis




Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens |

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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