Shell unveils vision of 2C-compatible energy future

Oil major publishes analysis on global warming goal for the first time, warning it relies on ‘optimistic’ assumptions

(Flickr/Paul Lowry)


Shell has published analysis for the first time on what it would take to meet international climate goals.

Previously, the oil major argued growing demand for energy would trump political agreement to hold global warming below 2C.

Under shareholder pressure, however, Shell has outlined what it describes as an “optimistic” scenario for preventing dangerous climate change.

Chief executive Ben van Beurden wrote in the foreword: “We know our longterm success as a company depends on our ability to anticipate the types of energy that people will need in the future in a way that is both commercially competitive and environmentally sound.”

Report: Embrace 2C climate target to boost value, oil majors told

Citing scientific studies, Shell says global greenhouse gas emissions need to peak in 2020 and reach net zero by 2070 to hold temperature rise to 2C. The tougher 1.5C target in the Paris Agreement implies a phase-out by 2050.

Meeting energy demand in that context is “technically feasible” but “very challenging,” said the company’s Jeremy Bentham.

The report emphasises the importance of carbon capture and storage and reiterates calls for a global carbon price to drive change.

It offers less detail than other scenarios on the mix of technologies and fuels, nor does it reveal how the 2C limit affects the value of Shell’s reserves.

While it aims to reduce the energy intensity of exploration projects, the company says “we have no immediate plans to move to a net-zero emissions portfolio over our investment horizon of 10–20 years”.


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