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Sunday, 6 May, 2001, 23:13 GMT 00:13 UK
Rig campaigner learns to love Shell
Brent Spar
The Brent Spar affair was a publicity fiasco for Shell
By BBC News Online's environment correspondent Alex Kirby

The man who led a bitter campaign against Shell says, environmentally, it is now the industry's leader.

Chris Rose co-ordinated Greenpeace's 1995 struggle to stop the oil giant scuttling the Brent Spar oil installation at sea.

Mankind is carrying out a risky experiment with the planet by raising the levels of greenhouse gases

Shell website
Shell eventually agreed to dismantle the Spar instead and has now won praise from Mr Rose for its stand on climate change.

In a move worthy of the prodigal son, he says Shell deserves support because it is the only oil company to have reaffirmed its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol.

President George W Bush made it clear in March that the US would not ratify the international climate treaty.

Consumer boycott

Mr Rose now co-ordinates the Families Against Bush (FaB) campaign.

He told BBC News Online: "Its purpose is to give people a way of doing something practical to save our children's climate, by putting pressure on people in the US who can make sure that action is taken."

FaB encourages people to buy the products of companies whose stand on Kyoto it approves and to boycott the rest.

Brent Spar
The Brent Spar was towed to a Norwegian fjord
Mr Rose said: "We're not looking just at the oil companies.

"We're getting together a shopping basket of brands relevant to families, like food and drink manufacturers, clothing firms, and places to eat."

Six years ago he and Shell were locked in a fierce dispute over the company's plan to sink the redundant Brent Spar in the north Atlantic.

Greenpeace argued that this was environmentally irresponsible and, after weeks of acrimonious and widely-publicised argument and consumer boycotts in Europe, the company dropped its plans.

Culture change

The Spar was eventually towed to a Norwegian fjord and later cut up.

Mr Rose told BBC News Online: "In 1995 I'd have been surprised to find myself endorsing Shell.

"But it's become apparent over the years that the company has undergone a huge amount of change, and that's partly because of the trauma it underwent over the Brent Spar.

The company has undergone a huge amount of change ... partly because of the trauma it underwent over the Brent Spar

Chris Rose
"It is a European company, and on Kyoto its position is far more like the European Union's than the US oil giants' stands."

FaB bases its endorsement of Shell's climate policy on a speech made on 25 April by the group managing director of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group, Jeroen van der Veer.

He told the second international oil summit in Paris: "I believe that events in the US make it even more imperative that as an industry we remain resolute in our pledge to deliver on actions to control greenhouse gas emissions.

Scientific evidence

"The oil and gas industry cannot ignore climate change."

Shell's website says: "The balance of scientific evidence suggests a link between human activities - especially the burning of fossil fuels - and climate change.

"At the very least, mankind is carrying out a risky experiment with the planet by raising the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to levels far above any seen in the last 150,000 years or more.

"We do not know whether this will be catastrophic, or whether it might on balance be slightly beneficial. But we do know that it is, in effect, irreversible."

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See also:

22 Apr 01 | Americas
EU presses on with Kyoto
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