Chloe Farand and Sharon Kelly

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Exclusive: Shell Took 16 Years To Warn Shareholders of Climate Risks, Despite Knowing in Private All Along

Read time: 14 mins
Shell Group managing directors pictured in 1997

It took oil company Shell more than 16 years to directly warn its shareholders that climate policy posed a financial risk to the company's business model despite knowing — in private and for decades — about the relationship between its products and climate change.

Shell started commissioning confidential work about the impact of burning fossil fuels on the global climate as early as 1981. However, analysis by DeSmog UK and DeSmog found that Shell did not start mentioning the possibility of climate change to shareholders in annual reports before 1991 — 10 years after the company started a research stream to study climate change.