The United Kingdom’s former climate change envoy John Ashton has accused Shell of engineering a “psychopathic” attempt to block action on climate change.
In an open letter to Shell Chief Executive Ben van Beurden published by the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper Tuesday, Ashton said the energy giant’s recently announced roadmap to cleaning up its environmental portfolio is nothing more than veiled attempt to preserve the “status quo.”
Ashton accused Beurden of using a cynical argument that “the economic and moral cost” of phasing out fossil fuels “would exceed the benefit in climate change avoided.”
“In reality your authority is compromised by your obvious desire to cling to what you know, whatever the cost to society,” he stated.
Ashton continued by arguing, “For a leader in the oil and gas industry to call for continued dependence on oil and gas will sound to most like special pleading.”
The letter was in response to a speech issued by Beurden in February. During the speech, Beurden argued the fossil fuel industry should be “more assertive” in the climate change debate.
“Fossil fuels out, renewables in’ — too often, that’s what it boils down to. Yet in my view, that’s simply naive,” Beurden said.
Ashton responded by stating, “Nobody has been less aloof, more assertive, nor more influential than the oil and gas industry.”
“For a leader in that industry now to express concern that it is not close enough to the climate debate sounds a bit, if you’ll forgive me, like a fish protesting that the ocean it swims through is not wet enough,” he stated.
The former climate change envoy further accused Beurden of expressing “a touch of psychopathy.”
“I am sure you are not in your personal life narcissistic, paranoid, and psychopathic. But yours is part of a collective voice, and those attributes color that voice. To that extent you and your peers cannot complain if society increasingly comes to see in your behavior the characteristic marks of the professional narcissist, paranoiac, and psychopath,” he stated.