The document was found by Dutch journalist Jelmer Mommers and published online by the Climate Files, a website sponsored by environmental advocacy group Climate Investigations Center.
The report, titled “The Greenhouse Effect,” said the effects of climate change would be notable by the late 20th Century and early 21st Century.
It cautioned that by then it may be too late to reverse its effects.
“By the time the global warming becomes detectable, it could be too late to take effective countermeasures to reduce the effects or even to stabilize the situation,” the report states.
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Written by Shell’s Greenhouse Effect Working Group, the report was based off a study conducted in 1986, and contains specific predictions on carbon emissions, political responses to climate change, and how society will be affected.
Some of its predictions include rising sea levels, changing temperatures and human migration.
More notably, the report reveals that Shell knew decades ago that fossil fuels, and the oil and gas industry in particular, would play a major role in greenhouse gas emissions.
It estimated that in 1981, 44 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions came from oil.
“With fossil fuel combustion being a major source of CO2 in the atmosphere, a forward looking approach by the energy industry is clearly desirable,” the report urged.
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As The Washington Post notes, the findings of the report didn’t reflect the company’s public climate change stance. Just years later, Shell was part of the Global Climate Coalition, an industry group that denied climate change and opposed the Kyoto Protocol.
Shell eventually left the industry group in 1998, citing “irreconcilable” differences of opinion.
News of the 1988 report comes the same week as The Guardian reported that legal action is being threatened against Shell, unless it steps up its efforts to comply with the Paris climate agreement.
On Wednesday, environmental advocacy group Friends of the Earth Netherlands urged the company to invest more in sustainable energy.
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While the company has said it is supportive of the Paris agreement, it is known to be one of the world’s 10 biggest carbon emitters, according to The Guardian.
In a statement provided to Global News, Shell responded to the newly publicized report.
“The Shell Group’s position on climate change has been a matter of public record for decades. We strongly support the Paris Agreement and the need for society to transition to a lower carbon future, while also extending the economic and social benefits of energy to everyone,” the statement read.
“Successfully navigating this dual challenge requires sound government policy and cultural change to drive low-carbon choices for businesses and consumers. It requires cooperation between all segments of society.”