Who: Shell

Where: Advertising watchdog, the Netherlands (Reclame Code Commissie)

What: 'Green' hydrogen and 'millions of kilometres' ruled misleading

When: February 2022

Shell using 'green' hydrogen for busses misleading

The Dutch Advertising Code Committee ruled that Shell misleads with their advertisements about green hydrogen. Shell produces the hydrogen not from water and green electricity, but from the residual product of a chlorine plant that runs on fossil fuels. Also, the electricity is only ‘green’ through certificates.


Tom Saat, owner of a city farm in Almere, filed the complaint. During the hearing a few weeks ago, he explained that he produces green hydrogen himself, from water and solar energy. He is annoyed by the deception of Shell, which also calls its own hydrogen ‘green’, but is actually grey. The watchdog agrees with Saat, noting that hydrogen can be produced in different ways with different environmental impacts. The way Shell produces the hydrogen is not what the average consumer will expect when talking about ‘green hydrogen’. Therefore the advertisement does not comply with the Dutch Advertising Code and is misleading.


'Millions of kilometres' ruled misleading

In the same misleading advertisement, Shell claims to make millions of kilometres cleaner with buses, trucks and cars running on green hydrogen. The watchdog ruled that ‘millions of kilometres’ seems a lot without context. In fact, it concerns only a small part of all kilometres driven. The advertisement is part of the broader marketing campaign in which Shell claims: “We are changing. We want to. We must. We are doing it. We are changing into one of the biggest drivers of the energy transition.”


The petitioner, Jilt Sietsma, is an entrepreneur in sustainable energy. He is supported by Reclame Fossielvrij.