x

Science

Greener Pastures: Shell Plans Steady Drop in Oil Business

February 11, 2021

LONDON — Royal Dutch Shell, one of the multinationals that has defined the oil industry, is slowly turning away from the fossil fuel that made its fortune over the decades but also worsened a global climate crisis.

The company said Thursday that its production of oil peaked before the coronavirus pandemic and will fall steadily as it attempts an ambitious pivot toward less polluting forms of energy. It's a milestone for the company and reflects the urgency facing governments and companies to reduce climate-warming emissions.

Shell unveiled new plans for reaching its goal of being carbon neutral by 2050 that include a 1% to 2% drop annually in oil output. It will eliminate seven of its 13 refineries and aims to cut production of gasoline and diesel fuel by 55% over the next decade.

The plan is part of a wider push, particularly among European oil companies, to overhaul their operations to reduce carbon emissions blamed for global warming while still making money. BP said last year that it wants to eliminate or offset all carbon emissions from its operations and the oil and gas it sells to customers by 2050.

Critics say energy companies have been moving too slowly to cut carbon emissions amid a United Nations drive to limit temperature increases to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels.

"Our accelerated strategy will drive down carbon emissions and will deliver value for our shareholders, our customers and wider society," Shell's CEO, Ben van Beurden, said in a statement.

Shell plans to increase production of liquefied natural gas, low-carbon fuels such as bioethanol and hydrogen as it seeks to eliminate or offset all carbon emissions from the company's operations and the products it sells.

It plans to increase its network of electric vehicle charging stations to about 500,000 by 2025 from 60,000 today and double electricity sales to retail and business customers. Shell said it will invest $100 million annually in "nature-based solutions" that protect or redevelop forests, wetlands and grasslands that take carbon out of the atmosphere.

David Elmes, a professor at Warwick Business School in England who heads the Global Energy Research Network, said Shell's plan to reduce emissions is "ticking all the boxes" but the question remains whether the company will be able to make the shift lucrative enough for shareholders used to generous dividends.

The plan includes bets on new technologies such as capture carbon and storage that need a lot of investment.

"Today's plan is certainly a transformation, the question is can they afford it," he said.

Environmental activists said the plan was still not ambitious enough considering the speed with which global emissions need to be cut. 

Greenpeace noted that Shell did not say it would cut production outright, just let it fade as the global economy moves toward other forms of power, like renewable energy. It also questioned Shell's reliance on tree-planting to offset carbon emissions as unrealistic.

RELATED

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Lake sturgeon don't need Endangered Species Act protections, federal wildlife officials announced Monday, saying that stocking programs have helped the prehistoric fish return to areas where they had vanished.

Top Stories

Columnists

A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

Video

A Palestinian Baby in Gaza is Born an Orphan in an Urgent Cesarean Section after an Israeli Strike

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Sabreen Jouda came into the world seconds after her mother left it.

NEW YORK  — Monday's opening statements in the first criminal trial of a former American president provided a clear roadmap of how prosecutors will try to make the case that Donald Trump broke the law, and how the defense plans to fight the charges on multiple fronts.

ASTORIA – The singer Anastasia visited St.

CHICAGO, IL – This spring, Wrightwood 659 hosts Chryssa & New York, the first museum exhibition in North America in more than four decades to focus on the Greek-born artist Chryssa (1933–2013).

NEW YORK – Greek-American George Patrikis, owner of Ditmars Flower Shop in Astoria, was featured in the New York Times on April 15 about the rise in the cost of a dozen red roses from $60 in 2019 to $72 today.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.