Shell slammed over eye-watering profits amidst cost of living crisis

"One of the corporate scandals of our times"

A photo of a Shell gas station

Earlier this week, BP announced it had secured £4 billion in profits in the first three months of 2023. Today, another fossil fuel giant has confirmed its staggering profits. Shell made record breaking profits of £7.6 billion in the first quarter of the year.

The news has been met with outrage from trade unions who have slammed the government for not taking action on energy firm profiteering in the middle of a cost of living crisis partially driven by high energy bills.

TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “These sky-high profits beg the question – will the government ever have the backbone to tax the energy giants properly? While families across Britain have struggled to heat their homes, Shell have enjoyed a record cash bonanza.

“Our energy market is fundamentally broken. Struggling households shouldn’t be lining the pockets of shareholders and fat cat CEOs. We could all have lower bills if government taxed excessive profits, introduced a social tariff and created public ownership of new clean power. It’s time to end the energy racket.”

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary said: “The scale of profiteering displayed today by Shell and earlier this week BP is one of the corporate scandals of our times. And this is practically untouched by Rishi Sunak’s so-called windfall tax.

“Actually it’s time to consider something way beyond a windfall tax. Unite research has found that if the UK had a Norwegian tax take we would be earning at least £30 billion more from the North Sea than we are now.

“Not taking any action against “Big Oil” means the profiteering plundering will continue without end.”

Environmental groups have also spoken out about the scale of Shell’s profits, given the fossil fuel industry’s role in the climate crisis.

Charlie Kronick, Senior Climate Advisor at Greenpeace UK, said: “As temperatures soar from Madrid to Mogadishu, Shell is once again posting bumper profits while promising to keep extracting fossil fuels for years to come. Millions around the world are already feeling the effects of the climate crisis and it’s those who did the least to cause it who are paying the heaviest price.

“It’s time for the oil giants to start feeling the heat. The UK Government should stop issuing new oil and gas licences and force Shell and the rest of the industry to start using their obscene profits to pay for the damage that their fossil fuel habit is causing to lives and livelihoods around the world.”

And the news has sparked criticism from politicians too. The Scottish Green Party’s energy and environment spokesperson, Mark Ruskell MSP said: “These are climate wrecking profits, with every pound taking us another step closer to environmental breakdown. The world is burning but the fossil fuel giants have never had it so good. 

“We can’t go on like this. The problem isn’t just companies like Shell, it’s the governments and system that support them and allow them to do so much damage.”

He continued: “This generation of politicians and leaders has the resources and the expertise to do things differently. We still have the chance for a just transition away from the fossil fuels that have done so much damage. It is an opportunity that we must take.”

A petition calling for a stronger windfall tax on oil and gas companies has attracted over 11,000 signatures.

Chris Jarvis is head of strategy and development at Left Foot Forward

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