For many years, CBIS has been at the forefront of faith-based efforts to get the energy industry to change its policies in regard to sustainability and safe-guarding the environment. We have worked with companies like Shell and BP on these very issues. “We have stated all along,” said Julie Tanner, Director of CRI at CBIS, “that many companies face serious risks by ignoring issues like sustainability, environmental stewardship, workers rights and more, including reputational risks and lawsuits.”
A Wall Street Journal article, dated November 19th, 2016, titled “Shell Fights Lawsuits Over Environmental Record in Nigeria,” presented a poignant example of what ignoring these risks can lead to: disastrous results for local communities, “spills that ravaged the local environment” and a “flurry of lawsuits” that Shell and its shareholders have to deal with. Shell has pointed to criminal activity (stolen oil, illegal refining) as causes for its problems in Nigeria, but the suits have continued.
The ongoing legal battles are occurring as Shell refocuses on deep-water operations and what the article refers to as “a historic shift toward natural gas” which could shape “a more climate-friendly image” for Shell with investors globally. Or, maybe not, said Marcela Pinilla, Senior Analyst for CRI at CBIS, “Corporations must first earn a ‘license to operate’ in any community before they start operations. This news on Shell is one example of the types of risks that could potentially come to bear on their long-term performance.”
CBIS has engaged Shell on human rights and environmental issues related to Nigeria, including meeting with executives from Shell Nigeria, for over 7 years. “We are also proud to have supported the work of our faith partners in the U.K., The Ecumenical Counsel for Corporate Responsibility, who led the charge in calling on Shell to take action to reduce the negative impact of its operations in the Niger Delta,” added Tanner.