Oil-giant Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) has announced its commitment to becoming a net-zero company by 2050.

Shell will aim to reduce the net carbon footprint of its energy products by around 65 percent by 2050, and by 30 percent by 2035.

“Society’s expectations have shifted quickly in the debate around climate change,” Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said in a statement.

“Shell now needs to go further with our own ambitions, which is why we aim to be a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050 or sooner. Society, and our customers, expect nothing less.”

Shell’s new emissions target follows a similar commitment announced by rival company, BP, in February 2020, where it also revealed plans to achieve net zero by 2050.

Wood Mackenzie Vice President and Corporate Analyst, Luke Parker, said, “This is an evolution of the net carbon footprint ambition that Shell unveiled in November 2017.

“It has effectively accelerated its ambition to reduce the net carbon footprint of the energy products it sells (Scope 1, 2 and 3) by 65 per cent by 2050, instead of 50 per cent.

“The interim ambition shifts to 30 per cent by 2035, instead of 20 per cent. Shell sees this as bringing the company in line with changed societal ambitions for 1.5°C, rather than 2°C, as previously targeted.

“The ambition is based on net carbon intensity rather than absolute emissions, and covers Scope 3 emissions associated with the energy products that Shell sells, rather than all products. It has also made a new commitment to become net zero on an absolute basis on the Scope 1 and 2 emissions associated with all products that it manufactures.

“This is a commitment on absolute emissions – rather than intensity – and all products, not just energy. The new commitment is complementary to the evolution of the pre-existing ambition, and effectively sits inside the revised ambition.

“The fact that Shell announced the move now underlines its commitment to make the shift from Big Oil to Big Energy. Coronavirus and its fall-out doesn’t change that – if anything, it adds greater weight to the argument. 

“Despite immediate cash flow constraints, Shell (and its peers) will emerge from this period more determined to make the shift.”

Mr van Beurden said that the COVID-19 pandemic had brought with it unprecedented health and economic circumstances, but that it shouldn’t detract from the efforts taken to minimise the impact of climate change.

“These are extraordinary times,” Mr van Beurden said.

“Yet even at this time of immediate challenge, we must also maintain the focus on the long term.”

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