Shell boss 'fears for the planet'

The head of one of the world's biggest oil giants has said unless carbon dioxide emissions are dealt with he sees "very little hope for the world".

In a frank interview, Ron Oxburgh told the Guardian newspaper that climate change makes him "very worried for the planet".

He said a technology to trap harmful emissions, blamed by many scientists for climate change, must be developed.

But he said he feared "the timescale might be impossible".

'Little hope'

"No one can be comfortable at the prospect of continuing to pump out the amounts of carbon dioxide that we are at present," said the Shell boss.

"People are going to go on allowing this atmospheric carbon dioxide to build up, with consequences that we really can't predict, but are probably not good."

He said a technique called carbon sequestration urgently needs to be developed to capture greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide, so they can be stored underground, rather than be allowed to enter the atmosphere.

"You may be able to trap it in solids... and probably have to put it under the sea, but there are other possibilities.

"Sequestration is difficult, but if we don't have sequestration then I see very little hope for the world.

"I don't see any other approach."

Battered image

His comments echo those of government chief science adviser David King, who declared in January that climate change was a far greater threat to the world than international terrorism, and blamed the US for failing to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.

Lord Oxburgh continued: "You can't slip a piece of paper between David King and me on this position."

The remarks are likely to anger other bosses within the oil industry who argue a link between the use of fossil fuels and global warming has not been established.

Lord Oxburgh took the top slot at Shell in March and was charged with restoring its battered image.

The company had been rocked after it was found to have overstated its oil and gas reserves, which led to the departure of former boss Philip Watts and several top executives.

Two months ago Prime Minister Tony Blair, speaking at the launch of an international campaign aimed at speeding up greenhouse gas emission reductions, said there was "no bigger long-term question facing the global community" than the threat of climate change.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2004/06/17 09:49:13 GMT


Informant: Teresa Binstock


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