New Global Witness complaint submitted to the US financial regulator accuses Shell of lumping together some of its gas-related investments with its spending on renewables to inflate its overall investment in renewable sources of energy.

Despite fossil fuel giant Shell claiming to spend 12% of its annual expenditure on “Renewables and Energy Solutions”, we found that in reality the company only spends 1.5% of its overall expenditure on solar and wind power generation. Alarmingly, it appears that a significant portion of Shell’s spending on “Renewables and Energy Solutions” actually goes to investments in climate-wrecking gas. 

We cannot afford fossil fuel companies like Shell to carry on with these greenwashing and delaying tactics. That’s why Global Witness has filed a groundbreaking greenwashing complaint with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the US agency charged with protecting investors, showing how Shell overstates its investments in renewable energy by including gas-related activities, such as integrated power, gas marketing and trading, hydrogen, and carbon capture and storage.

Misleading investments in renewable energy

In 2021, Shell designated $2.4 billion of its total $19.7 billion expenditure towards what it labels as “Renewables and Energy Solutions”. Yet we estimate that only $288 million of this expenditure was directed towards wind and solar power generation – making up a paltry 1.5% of the company’s overall spending. 

Shell does not disclose how much it spends on fossil gas activities that it tells investors are “renewable” or “energy solutions”, though gas plays a role in the majority of the investments included under the label. Fossil gas is anything but a renewable, and according to the International Panel on Climate Change, is the third most carbon-intensive method of generating electricity. The UN Environment Program says methane, the primary component of fossil gas, is responsible for more than a quarter of the global warming the world is today experiencing.


Note: EU Taxonomy refers to “Electricity generation using solar voltaic energy,” “Electricity generation from wind\npower,” and “Installation, maintenance and repair of renewable energy technologies.”

In response to claims in this complaint, a Shell representative wrote that “Shell is confident that its financial disclosures are fully compliant with all SEC and other reporting requirements” and pointed to disclosures in recent quarterly and annual reports in which “Renewables and Energy Solutions” is defined as including the gas-related activities described above.

We need an equitable and just transition to renewable energy, that’s why Global Witness calls on the SEC to investigate Shell’s greenwashing of its fossil gas investments to determine if Shell violated relevant US securities laws, and if appropriate, to impose fines and to prohibit Shell from further violations.