The oil group, Royal Dutch Shell, has teamed up with the McKinsey management consultancy and other large companies to advise governments on how to combat global warming without weakening their economies.
Coal miner BHP Billiton, the US General Electric conglomerate and at least two big environmental groups are also backing a $6m “energy transitions commission” to create a blueprint for a greener global economy in the next 15 years, the Financial Times has learnt.
The move is one of several initiatives fossil fuel groups are supporting as countries prepare to strike a UN climate change accord in Paris in December that is supposed to cut global greenhouse gas pollution.
But the commission, due to be formally unveiled at a conference in Texas on Monday, is already under fire from some climate campaigners asking if a body supported by fossil fuel companies can offer objective guidance on global warming.
Shell’s efforts to explore for oil in the Arctic have made it a particular target for protesters who say the company could despoil a pristine environment in an attempt to extract fuel that causes climate change.
“We question the credibility and independence of any entity set up by energy incumbents with an interest in maintaining the status quo,” said Anthony Hobley, chief executive of Carbon Tracker, a London think-tank that says most of the oil, gas and coal reserves of publicly listed companies must stay in the ground if the world is to avoid dangerous global warming.
Another critic, Tom Burke, chairman of the E3G environmental group, said the commission looked like “an ill-considered” move aimed at distracting attention from the fact that a successful Paris accord could require fossil fuel companies to stop investing in new projects as soon as 2020.
But the head of one environmental group joining the commission said the body should fill a much-needed role by providing concrete policy ideas for governments facing the difficult dilemma of shifting the world’s reliance on an energy system endangering the climate. […]
The US-based World Resources Institute is another environmental group joining the commission, along with British economist, Nicholas Stern, and senior executives from the US Dow Chemical group, Germany’s RWE utility, and Norway’s Statoil.