Royal Dutch Shell has committed to accelerating its strategy to become a net zero emissions business, two weeks after a Dutch court ruling ordered the company to reduce its global carbon emissions by 45% by the end of 2030 compared to 2019 levels.
Shell CEO Ben van Beurden promised to “rise to the challenge” to help create a low-carbon energy system, but came out to fight for the Anglo-Dutch oil company he runs, insisting that it has been leading the industry. by taking responsibility for your carbon emissions.
In a sentence posted on your LinkedIn page, van Beurden said he was surprised by the court’s verdict, saying he was “disappointed that Shell is being singled out for a ruling that I believe does not help reduce global CO2 emissions.”
He added: “a court ordering an energy company to reduce its emissions, and the emissions of its customers, is not the answer.”
The transition to low-carbon energy, necessary to combat the climate emergency, was “too great a challenge for a single company to tackle,” he wrote, calling for clearer regulations and policies from global governments.
Shell said it was reviewing the ruling handed down last month by a court in The Hague and hoped to appeal. But the court has said its decision is immediately enforceable and should not be stayed before an appeal.
Shell’s oil production likely peaked in 2019, van Beurden said. He believed the company’s total absolute carbon emissions would decline from 2018 levels. Instead, he said Shell should work with its customers to help them find their own path to achieving net zero emissions.
The oil giant insisted that it will continue to produce oil and gas products “for a long time” to meet customer demand and maintain the company’s financial strength, while attracting investment.
Imagine that Shell decided to stop selling gasoline and diesel today. This would undoubtedly reduce Shell’s carbon emissions. But it wouldn’t help the world in the least, ”van Beurden wrote. “The demand for fuel would not change. People filled their cars and delivery trucks at other service stations. “
The company insisted it had “rigorous short-term reduction targets” on the way to its goal of becoming a net zero emissions business by 2050. It added that Shell had taken responsibility for reducing the carbon emissions it produced as well. as produced. when customers used your products.
The landmark Dutch case was brought by the environmental group Friends of the Earth and more than 17,000 co-plaintiffs, who successfully argued that Shell had been aware of the dangerous consequences of COtwo emissions for decades, and that and its targets remained insufficiently robust.
The court told the company that its emission reductions, along with those of its suppliers and buyers, should be in line with the Paris climate agreement.
Although it intends to appeal against the ruling, Shell said it will “look for ways to further reduce emissions in a way that remains useful and profitable.”
As part of its energy transition strategy, Shell said that in recent years it had invested “billions of dollars” in low-carbon energy, including wind and solar power, hydrogen and biofuels.
Shell is committed to giving investors the opportunity to vote on the progress of its transition strategy at each annual shareholders meeting. Van Beurden complained that the court hearing took place several months before the publication of the strategy.
Shell faced a significant investor rebellion at its most recent annual general meeting, when a shareholders resolution coordinated by Follow this, a group of Dutch climate activists, who asked the company to set binding carbon emissions targets received 30% of the vote.
Mark van Baal, founder of Follow This, said van Beurden “failed to have his moment of epiphany and still believes that committing to the Paris agreement is an unfair request.”
“More stakeholders than ever are pushing for the Paris lineup and there comes a time when Shell will have to listen and act. Butvan Beurden can rest assured that Shell is not alone in this challenge, ”said van Baal.
Rachel Kennerley, an international climate activist for Friends of the Earth, said Shell’s promises “don’t go far enough.”
“If Mr. van Beurden took this as seriously as he claims, he would stop dismissing his company’s role in driving this devastating situation and use the court’s ruling as an intervention to do the right thing, rather than appeal with all of Shell. corporate power, ”Kennerley said.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism