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Shell 'greenwash' misled public

Energy giant Shell misled the public about its "sustainable" operations in an advert, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled.

Following a complaint from the WWF over an advert dubbed a "greenwash", the ASA ruled that Shell could not run the advert again.

In the advert, which accompanied the company's financial results in the Financial Times, the oil company said: "We invest today's profits in tomorrow's solutions."

The advert also claimed its practices were "sustainable"; a word which the WWF claimed was used misleadingly.

The WWF complained to ASA, claiming that exploitation of oil form the Athabasca Oil Sands Project in Alberta in which the company has a 60 per cent stake, was highly inefficient and emitted up to eight times as much green house gasses as conventional oil production.

In announcing its ruling, the ASA cited Canada's independent National Energy Board which noted that oil sand development had a big impact on water conservation, greenhouse gas emissions and waste management.

Extracting oil from oil sands is a relatively expensive process but recent rises in oil and the desire for politically stable sources of crude have motivated further exploitation of the Canadian oil sand fields.

Extraction requires the creation of massive 'settling ponds' of waste and sound cannons are deployed in order to scare off birds from landing on them.

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