Shell, To Cut Carbon Output, Will Be Less of an Oil Company

Credit: Mary Turner/Reuters.
A station where Shell is offering electric-vehicle charging in London.

 

Bowing to pressure from shareholders and the Paris international climate accord, Royal Dutch Shell pledged on 28 November to increase its investment in renewable fuels and to cut its carbon emissions in half by 2050.

Shell and other big oil companies have moved only sporadically over the last decade toward greater production of wind and solar energy. Now there are signs of a commitment to take climate change more seriously.

In comments to investors, Ben van Beurden, Shell’s chief executive, said that, from 2018 to 2020, the company’s new-energies division would spend up to $2 billion a year on renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and hydrogen power and on electric-car charging stations.

While that sum is a large increase from Shell’s previous commitment, it is well below 10% of the oil giant’s total investment dollars. Still, van Beurden stressed that the pledge was just a start and that the company supported the goal of the Paris accord, which is to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

“We will do this in step with society’s drive to align with the Paris goals,” van Beurden added, “and we will do it by reducing the net carbon footprint of the full range of Shell emissions, from our operations and from the consumption from our products.”

Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, said it aimed to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions by 20% by 2035 and by half by 2050. The growing global dependence on natural gas, as a replacement for coal, should help Shell meet its goals since it has made a big investment in producing and trading gas.

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