Shell’s ‘Onward’ Startup: Genuine Sustainability or Greenwashing?

Shell’s ‘Onward’ Startup: Genuine Sustainability or Greenwashing?

"Onward Sustainability"

Shell has launched ‘Onward,’ a startup aimed at accelerating the energy transition. Seemingly focused on advocating clean energy futures and addressing climate concerns, Onward represents Shell’s commitment to sustainability and environmental care. By promoting the switch to cleaner energy sources, the startup is contributing towards a greener, more energy-efficient future.

However, a closer look at Onward’s agenda suggests a focus on enhancing results in the oil and gas fields. This is inferred from the job roles featured on Onward’s official site, mostly relating to oil and gas exploration. Essentially, it appears that the startup’s priority lies in improving oil and gas operations by streamlining processes and introducing new, augmenting technologies.

Paris Marx, a podcast host, criticizes companies like Shell for attempts like these, claiming they exacerbate the climate crisis under the guise of environmental activities. Marx’s claims emphasize the irony of their actions, suggesting these activities not only fail to mitigate climate issues but instead, intensify them. His views raise critical perspectives on performative environmentalism, underscoring the need for impactful and sincere sustainable action.

Onward’s launch coincides with the rising trend of mainstream oil companies, such as Exxon, Aramco, and Shell, increasingly investing in low-carbon energy solutions. These measures are aligned with the globally recognized urgency to battle climate change, pushing these energy giants to diversify their efforts beyond oil and gas.

Despite investing in climate technology, many oil companies like Shell have been criticized for failing to meet their touted climate objectives. This skepticism springs from the observation that these firms continue to boost oil production while investing in climate tech, thereby contributing to increased carbon emissions. This double bind has led to accusations of ‘greenwashing,’ as these companies’ efforts are viewed as merely fronts to masquerade continued environmental damage.

When queried about the conflict between promoting jobs in the oil and gas sector versus aiming for net-zero emissions, representatives from Onward evaded clear answers, pointing instead to press releases about their rebranding process.


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