Shell’s chief executive has today said that the oil behemoth will accelerate its plans to transition away from fossil fuels after a historic Dutch court ruling last month.
In a landmark case, a court in the Hague ordered the Anglo-Dutch giant to slash greenhouse emissions by 45 per cent from 2019 levels by 2030, faster than it had currently planned.
Writing on LinkedIn, Ben van Beurden insisted that Shell disputed the judgement and would appeal it, but pledged to “seek ways to reduce emissions even further in a way that remains purposeful and profitable”.
“That is likely to mean taking some bold but measured steps over the coming years”, he wrote.
Even if Shell appeals, the court has deemed that the ruling applies immediately and cannot be suspended pending a court challenge.
Shell already has one of the oil industry’s most ambitious climate strategies, with current plans to cut the carbon intensity of its products by at least 6 per cent by 2023, by 20 per cent by 2030, by 45 per cent by 2035 and by 100 per cent by 2050 from 2016 levels.
But it has faced calls from investor groups and activists to go further and fully align its targets with the 2050 Paris accords.
Van Beurden defended Shell’s ambitions, saying its strategy had won 89 per cent of support at its recent AGM – the first time such plans have been put to shareholder vote.
“For Shell, this ruling does not mean a change, but rather an acceleration of our strategy. We have a clear target to become a net-zero emissions business by 2050, in step with society’s progress towards achieving the goal of the Paris Agreement.
“We have set rigorous, short-term reduction targets along the way to make sure we achieve net zero”, he wrote.
“Nevertheless, a court has ordered us to go even faster. Shell is a great company with a long history of rising to the most difficult challenges.
“We may disagree with this order, but we will continue to embrace the leading role we must play in helping to develop a low-carbon energy system. This is another challenge we will rise to”, he finished.