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    Shell Focuses on Environment

    Oil company establishes "green growth" study center at Rice University.

    HOUSTON -- Shell Oil Co., in a bid to bolster its environmental credentials, said it would establish a center at Rice University to study sustainable development.

    The new study center will be called the Shell Center for Sustainability.

    The company, a unit of Royal Dutch/Shell Group, gave the school the first $500,000 of what will become a $3.5 million endowment for what it envisions as a hub for thought on what is also called "green growth."

    "Society faces tremendous challenges due to population growth, the growing chasm between the poor and wealthy, damage to the environment, climate change and loss of biodiversity, unsustainable levels of consumption and issues related to health and education, Philip Watts, Royal Dutch/Shell group chairman, said. "We at Shell feel it our responsibility to contribute to finding solutions to these problems."

    Shell was developing non-hydrocarbon forms of energy -- solar, wind, hydrogen and biomass -- and is also completing this year a program undertaken in 1998 to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent, the Associated Press reported.

    "If we had carried on business as usual, our emissions would have gone up 30 percent," Watts said.

    When asked about the possible conflict between Shell's need to sell oil and its advocacy of green growth, Watts said, "The reality is that there is no development without energy, so I don't feel at all badly about being in the energy business."

    But, he said, "I think there is an issue for all developed countries about the intensity of energy use, eco-efficiency and how we get the most out of the energy we use."

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