One week ago, my dear comrades Marie-Sol and Archana from Shell Must Fall have launched the Future Beyond Shell podcast, discussing with distinguished researchers various pathways to dismantle the carbon major. The highlights for me were the episodes on Bankrupcy and Nationalisation, but I highly recommend you to check out all the flavours!
Today, we woke up to a MAJOR PLOT TWIST: Shell has decided to abandon its motherland of 130 years and its “Royal Dutch” moniker, and restructure the formerly Anglo-Dutch company under the Union Jack and become a fully UK-based entity. We are expected to believe that this change, dubbed ‘Simplification‘, has nothing to do with the Dutch court ruling that forces Shell to cut its full-scope emissions, and everything to do with their own passion for accelerating the transition to “net zero bla bla bla” by 2500 (or was it 2050?).
The company is also likely to evade a corporate ‘exit tax’ and set a precedent for other rogue companies wishing to avoid legal consequences. Now, in a free global market, one can set up shop wherever they want of course. Especially if you’re going through a major identity crisis, changing your name and your scenery is supposed to do you good. But one wonders; after everything that the Dutch state has done for the company, after decades of favours and pampering, is this how Shell expresses its gratitude? Other states should take note: getting too intimate with fossil fuel sector is a one-sided love story, never reciprocal, always extractivist.
We say: there is no Simplification, no “Get Out of Jail Free” card for Shell. The-company-formerly-known-as-Royal-Dutch-Shell cannot escape courtcases, disruptions and dismantling. Ben Van Beurden will certainly be back in the Hague, but for the International Court — you can run, but you can’t hide from Climate Justice.