Two years after filing a complaint with the Competition Bureau alleging Shell’s “Drive carbon neutral” advertising misled the public, Greenpeace Canada is claiming victory for the oil giant removing the advertising from its Canadian platforms.

The Bureau confirmed by email to Greenpeace Canada in December 2023 for the first time that it had in fact started an investigation into the company’s advertising, but that it was closing the investigation because Shell had removed all representations regarding its “Drive Carbon Neutral” program from its Canadian website and app.

In its advertisement launched in 2020, Shell encouraged the public to buy its fossil fuel products by claiming it could use carbon offsets to “cover all emissions from the production through to the use of the fuel”.

However, Greenpeace Canada’s complaint to the Bureau raised questions over the veracity of the company’s advertisement. These included a lack of evidence that Shell could wholly offset emissions from the company’s fossil fuels and major shortcomings with its carbon offsets scheme.

Relying on tree planting and other initiatives to offset fuel emissions, Shell has yet to fully substantiate its claims to the public. Globally, the company has quietly walked back its earlier plans to invest heavily in carbon offsets.

This development comes as criticism of carbon offsets from Indigenous Peoplesscientists and others continue to grow. Hotter, dryer weather is causing forest offsets to literally go up in smoke. Logging and other industrial disturbances in the Canadian boreal are also undermining the forest’s ability to absorb and store carbon, according to a groundbreaking recent study.

Despite removing the advertisement, to date, Shell has not yet issued any retraction or apologized to the Canadian public. Further, Shell still advertises the program in other countries.