Letter: Shell should stop extracting fossil fuels and look for sustainable alternatives

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The Independent Online
As A former Shell geophysicist, I feel Emeka Achebe glosses over Shell's failings in Nigeria (Letters, 23 February).

The underlying truth is that our society is so dependent on fossil fuels that in its greed to extract them, environmental and social concerns have been downgraded. The mounting effect will rebound on us unless we shift soon to a sustainable way of life which utilises renewable energy sources. Unfortunately, like all the major players, Shell's vision of sustainability hinges on greater energy use, not less.

Achebe says that Shell Nigeria has spent "hundreds of millions of dollars" on the environment and community projects. To put this in perspective, this constitutes less than 0.5 per cent of the company's oil and gas profits. As for funding of local communities, the political structure ensures that the locals of the Niger delta do not, indeed cannot, benefit from Shell's activities there.

I know from personal experience that there are many well-intentioned, environmentally- concerned individuals within Shell, at least within the lower echelons. However, it's time the group lived up to its own statement of general business principles in its Nigerian (and other) operations. This includes the promotion of measures for the protection of health, safety and the environment for all who may be affected directly or indirectly by its activities. If Shell cannot uphold this then it should withdraw.

David Cromwell

Southampton Green Party