Quick word of congratulations to our friends at Shell. Yesterday, the company was awarded the Public Eye People’s Award for 2013 — making it (as far as I can tell) the first two-time winner of this estimable honor, having also won in 2005.
What’s the Public Eye Award? From the website for this esteemed prize:
The Public Eye Awards mark a critical counterpoint to the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. Organized since 2000 by Berne Declaration and Friends of the Earth (in 2009 replaced by Greenpeace), Public Eye reminds the corporate world that social and environmental misdeeds have consequences – for the affected people and territory, but also for the reputation of the offender.
And why did Shell earn top honors? (Well, alongside Goldman Sachs.) (I accidentally typed “Goldamn Sachs” and thought briefly about keeping that.)
Shell is always involved in particularly controversial, risky and dirty oil production projects. Thus, this Dutch-British corporation, chosen by online users for the public naming and shaming award, is also out in front in the highly risky search for fossil fuels in the fragile Arctic. This has been made possible by climate change and the disappearance of the Arctic ice cap, to which Shell has contributed. Every Arctic offshore oil project means new CO2 emissions. The Arctic’s oil reserves are enough for just three years. For this, Shell is jeopardising one of the Earth’s last natural paradises and endangering the living space of four million people, as well as unique fauna.
The celebratory announcement then walks through the company’s litany of 2012 screw-ups, with which you may already be familiar.
It’s not only Greenpeace that’s celebrating the company. Shell is also a finalist for a very, very, very prestigious (and presumably non-ironic) “Oil and Gas Award” from the oil and gas industry — one of only 130 oil and gas companies to be so named. So that’s pretty impressive, too.
While we don’t sit on the jury for either award, we think Shell deserves both. We are often hard on Shell, sometimes letting our dislike of rampant fossil-fuel extraction, our frustration with runaway oil consumption, our skepticism of rapacious profit-seeking while accepting federal subsidization color our perspective. But no company more deserves accolades from the industry that celebrates those traits and mockery from those who oppose them.
Here’s hoping they don’t repeat in 2014.