Shell’s working group knew three decades ago that the change was real and formidable, warning that it would affect living standards and food supplies and have social, economic and political consequences. It also warned that rising sea levels could impair offshore installations, coastal facilities, harbors, refineries and depots.
The documents contrast with Shell’s former public stance on climate change, at least for a period of time in the 1990s. The company was a member of the Global Climate Coalition, an industry group that raised doubts about the science of climate change and opposed the Kyoto Protocol. However, Shell withdrew from the group in 1998.
The 1988 report estimated that in 1981, 44 percent of carbon dioxide emissions came from oil, 38 percent from coal and 17 percent from natural gas.
“With fossil fuel combustion being a major source of CO2 in the atmosphere, a forward-looking approach by the energy industry is clearly desirable, seeking to play its part with governments and others in the development of appropriate measures to tackle the problem,” the report said.