Despite its own pledges to reach net-zero by 2050 and a court order requiring it to set tougher interim targets for 2030, a new report projects that Royal Dutch Shell will actually increase its greenhouse gas emissions by 4%.
“The research casts doubt not only on Shell’s own climate goals, but also its ability to comply with a landmark court ruling in the Netherlands to cut emissions 45% by 2030, compared with 2019 levels,” reports Bloomberg. “While the company is appealing the case—a process likely to take years—it must follow the order in the meantime.”
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Shell CEO Ben van Beurden previously stated that where the company’s emissions will be in 2030 is “a guess,” writes Follow This. The report from shareholder advocacy group Global Climate Insights (GCI) attempts to take the guesswork out of the equation and clarify the company’s performance for investors.
“We believe investors need to understand the true greenhouse gas emissions profile of stocks to make informed decisions on how they allocate funds to meet their climate goals,” says GCI.
Shell is pushing back on the report’s findings, Bloomberg writes. “This analysis is highly speculative,” a company spokesperson said. “We have always been clear that the business plans we have today will not get us to net-zero. So, our plans must change over time, as society and our customers also change. We have targets to drive down carbon emissions and a track record in hitting them. We fully intend to meet our future targets, too.”
Yet Shell has a consistent history of resisting climate action. In response to what he called the “demonization” of the oil and gas industry, CEO van Beurden stated in October 2019 that the company has “no choice” but to keep investing in new, long-lasting oil and gas projects. The fossil fuel giant was already falling short on its green energy investment targets at the start of 2020, and a year later analysts called its decarbonization plan “grotesque” and “delusional.” Shell later moved to appeal the May, 2021 court ruling that found the company was violating human rights by contributing to climate change.
Shell’s persistence in casting itself as serious on climate action in spite of this track record prompted climate activist Lauren MacDonald to walk off the stage—amid loud applause from the audience—during a TED Countdown Climate Panel earlier this month. A rattled Ben van Beurden responded by accusing demonstrators of “blackwashing” the fossil fuel industry, prompting another round of online mockery from campaigners.