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RCC Ruling on Shell "Drive CO2 neutral" 1

Jurisdiction: Reclame Code Commissie (Advertising Code Committee)

Side A: Group of students (Individual)

Side B: Shell (Corporation)

Core objectives: Whether Shell's climate neutrality claims based on CO2 offsetting in its "Drive CO2 neutral campaign" are misleading

The contested advertisement contained several statements by Shell in the campaign "Make a difference. Drive CO2 neutral.", specifically on Shell's website. 

The complaint alleged that Shell falsely claimed that the damage caused by CO2 emissions can be offset or neutralised through voluntary carbon credits. The complaint was based on various scientific reports, including the IPCC Synthesis Report in 2014. 

The Committee held that the average consumers would understand the term "neutralised" to mean that the harm caused by CO2 emissions was completely compensated by offsetting measures. This impression was reinforced by the manner that Shell issued an explanation of the campaign on its website. While the RCC acknowledged that Shell had plausibly demonstrated that it followed certain standards and guidelines, it pointed out that Shell did not guarantee the full offsetting in practice. The RCC stressed that article 3 of the Code for Environmental Advertising (MRC) set a high bar with regards to environmental claims which must be demonstrably correct. Against this background, Shell's claim were too absolute, as they guaranteed a result which was not certain. Thus, the Committee found the advertising claims to be misleading and in breach of articles 2 and 3 MRC.

Case documents

from the Grantham Research Institute
from the Grantham Research Institute
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