Jun 9, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Shell vows faster climate push after Dutch court ruling

The shell logo made into a telescope

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Shell said Wednesday it would accelerate its clean energy and climate efforts following a major Dutch court ruling last month that ordered faster greenhouse gas emissions cuts.

Why it matters: CEO Ben van Beurden's announcement signals how the landmark court ruling could tangibly affect one of the world's most powerful oil giants, even though Shell plans to appeal the decision.

What they're saying: His post this morning criticizes the ruling but adds that Shell feels "a determination to rise to the challenge."

  • "[W]e will seek ways to reduce emissions even further in a way that remains purposeful and profitable," he said while touting and defending the company's existing climate strategy and targets.
  • "[T]his ruling does not mean a change, but rather an acceleration of our strategy," van Beurden said.

Catch up fast: In late May, the Dutch district court in The Hague ordered Shell to cut its carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 relative to 2019 levels, which is considerably more aggressive than Shell's current plans.

The big picture: The court ruling was a major win for environmentalists, who are using a mix of legal efforts, investor activism and public pressure to push Big Oil on climate.

  • However, some analysts warn that absent more aggressive global efforts to curb demand and speed clean energy deployment, the campaigns against Big Oil will just shift production toward state-owned producers in OPEC producers and elsewhere.
  • Van Beurden's post argues that "Shell is being singled out by a ruling that I believe does not help reduce global CO2 emissions."
  • He also notes that if Shell hypothetically quit selling gasoline and diesel today, it would cut Shell's emissions but "demand for fuel would not change."

Go deeper: Big Oil's climate earthquake

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