Shell consultant quits, says company causes ‘extreme harm’ to planet

A Shell consultant resigned Monday with a searing email accusing the oil giant of “failing on a massive planetary scale” to limit climate risks. 

Caroline Dennett, who has been a U.K.-based safety consultant for Shell for 11 years, said she could no longer work for the company given its plans to expand fossil fuel extraction. 

In an email sent to the executive committee and more than 1,000 employees, she wrote that as “continued oil & gas extraction is causing extreme harm” to the planet, Shell was “failing on a massive planetary scale” to deliver on its pledge to cause “no harm” with its operations. 

“Shell is operating beyond the design limits of our planetary systems. Shell is not implementing steps to mitigate the known risks. Shell is not putting environmental safety before production,” Dennett wrote in her email, seen by POLITICO. 

She cited the International Energy Agency’s findings that no new gas or oil fields should be developed to reach net-zero emissions by the middle of the century and stay within relatively safe levels of global warming. 

Shell last year put forward a net-zero strategy but still plans to explore new fossil fuel projects until 2025, and recently started campaigning for the U.K. government to let the company develop a new North Sea gas field. 

“It pains me to end this working relationship which I have greatly valued, but I can no longer work for a company that ignores all the alarms and dismisses the risks of climate change and ecological collapse,” Dennett wrote. 

She called on the company’s management “to look in the mirror and ask themselves if they really believe their vision for more oil & gas extraction secures a safe future for humanity” and asked employees who can do so to “please walk away and towards a more sustainable career.” 

Asked for comment, a Shell spokesperson said that the company was “determined to deliver on our global strategy to be a net-zero company by 2050” and that it had “every intention of hitting” its targets.

They added: “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.”