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Shell Leaves Climate Project It Helped Set Up Amid Arctic Drilling Row

Protesters in Seattle in May 2015 demonstrating against drilling equipment being stationed in the harbour by Royal Dutch Shell. Photograph: Ted S. Warren/AP

Shell has been forced to leave a Prince of Wales climate change project which it helped found after a row over the oil company’s controversial drilling programme in the Arctic.

The departure from the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leader Group is another embarrassing setback for the oil and gas company, which has been battling to preserve its reputation in the face of a vociferous and growing campaign against its operations in the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska.

Greenpeace said the Anglo-Dutch group was rapidly becoming a pariah in the business world.

The exit was announced in a short note on the climate change programme’s website, based at Cambridge University, which said: “As of September 2015 longstanding member Royal Dutch Shell is no longer a member.”

Sources said there had been a falling out with other companies unhappy about Shell exploring for more fossil fuels in the Arctic.

Many experts believe that some existing oil and gas reserves cannot be burned if CO2 levels are not to rise to dangerous levels. They feel further drilling is not needed, especially in such high cost areas.

A Shell spokesman declined to comment on why the company had left the group which includes Unilever, Tesco and others, saying it was a matter for the other members to explain. He said: “We can confirm that we are no longer a member of the Corporate Leaders’ Group, of which we were a founder member in 2005. Over that period, both Shell and the CLG have worked to support the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), which we believe should be the main driver of change in the EU energy system.”

The spokesman defended the company’s stance on Alaskan drilling which was recently given the go-ahead by Barack Obama but which has been opposed by Democratic leadership hopeful, Hillary Clinton, and many others.

“We believe we can play an important role in developing the world’s energy resources, including those in the Arctic,” he said. “We choose to explore there because we have the expertise and experience to operate responsibly and be profitable at the same time.”

But environmental group Greenpeace said Shell was gradually being shunned by others in the business world. “This is just the latest in a long line of partners that have walked away from Shell because of its hypocritical stance on climate and Arctic oil drilling,” said Charlie Kronick, Arctic campaigner at Greenpeace.

“While Shell likes to pretend it’s a climate leader, in reality it is a climate pariah … It’s no surprise that Shell’s friends and allies are dropping like flies.”

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