Shell has published an inaugural analysis on what it would take to meet international climate goals, forgoing its previous argument that the growing demand for energy would defeat the 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 long-term 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.”
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.
Though the report emphasises the importance of carbon capture, 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. Also, it does not 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”.