The world needs to find a range of ways to reduce carbon emissions and one approach is to protect and restore natural ecosystems that can absorb carbon dioxide, such as forests, grasslands and wetlands. This is known as nature-based solutions.
Ecosystems like forests, grasslands or wetlands naturally remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere every year. And nature-based solutions, or natural climate solutions, are projects which protect, transform or restore these natural ecosystems so that they can absorb even more CO2 emissions from the atmosphere.
But these projects can also have extra benefits such as offering alternative sources of income to local communities, improving soil productivity, cleaning air and water, and maintaining biodiversity.
Nature-based solutions activities can also lead to the creation of ‘carbon credits’, where each credit represents the avoidance or removal of greenhouse gases equivalent to one tonne of CO2. These carbon credits can then be marketed, traded and bought. For example, they can be bought to help offset less avoidable carbon dioxide emissions that are produced elsewhere, such as the emissions released when driving a car.
In the UK, Shell offers customers the choice to ‘Drive Carbon Neutral’ once they have joined the Shell Go+ rewards programme. This is done by offsetting the CO2 emissions associated with fuel purchased by Shell Go+ customers by protecting and replanting forests around the world. And, in one year, Shell has offset over 2 million tonnes of CO2 emissions as part of this scheme – that’s like taking 750,000 cars off the road for a year. For more information on the scheme visit the Shell Go+ page.
For more information on nature-based solutions, listen to Harvonne Yap, Global Origination Lead for Environmental Products at Shell, speaking on a Spectator podcast.
Shell’s approach to nature-based solutions
Shell recognises the role that nature-based solutions can play in the future of our planet. Between 2019 and 2021, we plan to invest up to $300 million in nature-based solutions projects across the globe.
In the UK, Shell offers to offset the fuel emissions of customers on the Shell Go+ rewards programme.In order to do this, Shell uses carbon credits sourced from a number of places, including the Overkirkhope Project in the Scottish borders and the Longwood Project in Cumbria, both woodland creation projects verified to the UK Woodland Carbon Code. But the UK market for carbon credits is small, so, to have enough to offset Shell Go+ drivers, we also use credits from nature-based projects globally.
No single solution
Carbon offsetting is only part of the solution to reducing CO2 emissions. Where possible, we all need to avoid producing CO2 emissions altogether or choose solutions that help us to reduce them.
That is why Shell offers drivers a range of ways to lower their emissions: from providing charging for electric vehicles, to offering hydrogen as a fuel at Shell service stations, to giving guidance on efficient driving. Find out more information about these options here.
We also offer UK customers 100% certified renewable electricity for their homes through Shell Energy.
Forestry and Land Scotland
In 2019, Shell started working with the Forestry and Land Scotland team to establish around a million trees across the forest estate over the course of five years. This activity will ultimately generate carbon credits for Shell and will form part of our global trading portfolio.
Forestry and Land Scotland manage and protect 640,000 hectares of Scotland’s national forest estate on behalf of the Scottish government. That is equivalent to 25 times the size of Edinburgh.
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Shell wants to be a leading player in the transport system of tomorrow. That is why we are taking action today, investing in a range of new transport fuels with low or no carbon emissions, and helping our customers to offset the transport emissions that are less easy to avoid.
As the world changes and customer needs change, Shell is adapting too. We aim to make electricity a significant business for Shell, one that in the future could sit alongside oil, gas and chemicals.