Oil supermajor Shell announced on Thursday its ambition to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050 at the latest, joining other majors such as BP and Eni in unveiling plans to curb carbon emissions.
Shell will be working with its customers to address the emissions which are produced when they use the fuels they buy from Shell, the supermajor said.
“Society’s expectations have shifted quickly in the debate around climate change. 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 chief executive Ben van Beurden said, adding that even at the times of immediate challenge such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the company should not lose focus on the long term.
Over the past two months, BP and Eni have also announced targets to cut emissions.
In February, before the oil price crash, BP said it would aim to become a net-zero company by 2050 or sooner, but it drew criticism over the lack of specifics about how it would achieve its goal.
Italy’s Eni also said in February that it expects its oil production to start declining after 2025 as part of a new long-term strategy to rely on natural gas, renewables, and new technologies to cut net greenhouse gas emissions of its energy products by 80 percent by 2050.
Shell has been setting carbon footprint targets in the past few years, but today’s plan is one of the most ambitious in terms of net-zero commitments in the industry.
The world needs to get to the point at which it will no longer add to the stock of greenhouse gases, and reducing emissions to net zero “is the only way to go,” van Beurden said last summer, calling on businesses to work together to move faster in addressing climate change.
While the Church of England Pensions Board and Robeco, co-lead as part of the Climate Action 100+ dialogue with Shell, welcomed Shell’s latest commitment, Teresa Anderson, climate policy coordinator at ActionAid International, said that “The ‘net’ of ‘net zero’ is a giant loophole that fossil fuel companies are using to avoid scrutiny.”
“We mustn’t let corporate greenwash or the COVID-19 pandemic distract us from the real and urgent transformation needed to avoid runaway climate change”, ActionAid said.