Letter: `Softening' Shell

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Sir: I was intrigued to read that Shell hired a Buddhist monk to lead 550 senior managers in meditation ("Buddhist monk hired to re- energise Shell", 29 August).

Although Shell chairman Mark Moody-Stuart has taken a few small steps in the right direction, such as instigating annual audits of the group's economic, environmental and social performance, it is not enough. We can afford to burn no more than one quarter of the known reserves of fossil fuels without risking dangerous climate change. And yet senior Shell executives continue to maintain that "the importance of oil and gas is likely to increase rather than diminish as we enter the 21st century".

Shell, together with governments and the other fossil fuel dinosaurs, should be doing much more to transfer investment from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources such as wind, wave and solar.

Shell's flirtation with Buddhism may lead to a softer company image. However, what we need from this oil company giant is a fundamental transformation to an ecological outlook and practice.

DAVID CROMWELL

Southampton

The writer was a Shell International geophysicist from 1989 to 1993

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