The Australian green energy provider Powershop launched in 2012 with the support of a range of environmental NGOs. Last month, Shell bought the company and took over its clients.
Ever since its launch in 2012, Powershop Australia has marketed itself not just as a provider of clean energy but as an ally in the fight against climate change. Thanks in part to support from green NGOs — and access to their distribution lists — Powershop has built a customer base of 185,000 people over the last ten years.
In November this year, Shell announced that it would acquire the green energy company — along with all of its customers. Shell is one of the world’s biggest climate and human rights villains. Unsurprisingly, the move provoked an outcry from Powershop’s customers and defenders.
Powershop’s betrayal highlights not only the risks of partnering with private capital, but the limitations of consumer activism and corporate lobbying as strategies for averting climate disaster. The climate movement must learn from this mistake and avoid being seduced by the promise of market-driven shortcuts.