Energizer Shell received a reputable hit on 23 May. A longtime consultant resigned, accusing the company of permanent and intentional environmental damagein a dramatic and very public fashion.
Next week could be even worse for the dirty energy behemoth. That’s because a hearing is set to begin on May 30 in South Africa – one that could ruin it plans to blow up the ocean looking for more fossil fuels.
Save the Wild Coast
How The Canary Islands previously reported, a number of groups and communities mounted legal action against Shell toward the end of 2021. The cases opposed the company’s immediate plans to conduct seismic testing along the Wild Coast. Such tests indicate whether fossil fuels are present beneath the seabed. It involves blowing up the ocean with pulses regularly over a period of months.
Like the Daily Maverick reported, current scientific evidence shows that seismic surveys widely and negatively affects ocean ecosystemsfrom tiny organisms like zooplankton to large mammals like whales.
Natural Justice and other environmental and human rights-focused groups have filed an urgent ban request at the end of November. The judge in that case ruled against them, so Shell began its testing. Wild Coast community members and groups filed an additional emergency ban in early December. The judge ruled in their favor. The trial suspended Shell’s seismic activities, pending further legal proceedings.
Back in court
These legal proceedings must take place between 30 May and 1 June. In the meantime, two groups involved in the earlier case – Wild Justice and Greenpeace Africa – have asked to join the case brought by Wild Coast community members and groups. So the next steps will also consider that joining application.
Both the South African government and Shell will be under focus in the hearing. Candidates will argue that Shell does not have the necessary environmental authorization for testing under the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) – nor has it adequately consulted with affected communities. In addition, they claim that Shell’s Environmental Management Program (EMPr) for testing is insufficient in terms of environmental damage and considering the rights of communities.
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The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, meanwhile, is accused of not considering both climate change and the interests of the “whole community”including non-human ocean residents, when granting the exploration rights.
We aim to minimize the impact of our projects on the environment and be a good neighbor wherever we work, contributing to the well-being of neighboring communities.
A good neighbor?
The climate group Follow This recently gave Shell a chance to support his claim to be a “good neighbor,” ecologically speaking. The group that is trying to ensure change “from within” through proposing resolutions at shareholders ’meetings, demanded that the company strengthen its climate goals at its AGM on 24 May.
Shell’s opposition to the proposal adds weight to Caroline Dennett’s characterization of the company. The security consultant, who had worked with Shell for 11 years, dramatically resigned on 23 May. In LinkedIn post explaining the decision, she said:
Shell is fully aware that their ongoing oil and gas extraction and expansion projects are causing extreme damage to our climate, environment, nature and to humans.
The consultant accused the company of “double talk” about climate and “disrespect” for the risks involved.
Legal action, such as the immediate hearing in South Africa, gives an opportunity to force at least some of their expansion plans to reverse.
Featured image through SABC News / YouTube