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Contractor Quits, Puts Shell in Spotlight Over Climate

She's quitting over "double talk on climate."

The Shell logo at a petrol station in London, Jan. 20, 2016.
The Shell logo at a petrol station in London, Jan. 20, 2016.
AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, file

BERLIN (AP) — A longtime contractor for Shell has publicly called out the oil and gas company's climate plans, accusing the company of “double talk” by saying it wants to cut greenhouse gas emissions while working on tapping new sources of fossil fuel.

Caroline Dennett, who says she consulted Shell on safety issues for more than a decade, said Monday that she was ending her links with the company and urged others in the fossil fuel industry to do likewise.

“I’m quitting because of Shell’s double talk on climate," Dennet said in a public post on the business networking site LinkedIn.

“They know that continued oil and gas extraction causes extreme harms to our climate, to our environment, and to people,” she said. “And what ever they say, Shell is simply not winding down on fossil fuels.”

Shell, which is due to hold its annual general meeting for shareholders Tuesday, responded by saying it was committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

“We have set targets for the short, medium and long term, and have every intention of hitting them," the company said in a statement. "We’re already investing billions of dollars in low-carbon energy, although the world will still need oil and gas for decades to come in sectors that can’t be easily decarbonized.”

Dennett said her growing personal concerns about climate change made it increasingly difficult for her to work for Shell.

“It’s one thing to support a company to, hopefully, transition to alternative energy sources and making sure that they operate safely," she told The Associated Press. "It’s another thing to actually be supporting new oil and gas projects.”

Dennett said climate change wasn't a subject of discussion among front-line staff in the company.

“It’s probably happening in the PR team and the marketing and branding team, but it’s not happening in the operational divisions as far as I can see,” she said.

Dennet said she felt privileged to be able to sever her ties with Shell, and acknowledged others may not find it so easy.

“But the fossil fuel industry, it’s the past,” she said. "And if you can find a way out, then please walk away while there’s still time. Do it now.”

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres last month accused some government and business leaders of saying one thing but doing another when it comes to tackling global warming.

“Simply put, they are lying. And the results will be catastrophic,” he said, calling for an end to all new fossil fuel infrastructure.

Guterres recently appointed an expert panel to scrutinize companies' net zero claims amid concerns that they could be mere “greenwashing.”

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