Mount storm wind turbines

Tackling climate change

By 2050 the number of people on the planet is forecast to grow to 9 billion - that’s nearly 2 billion more of us than today. Experts agree that global energy demand is likely to double by 2050 compared to demand in the year 2000. At the same time, tackling climate change caused by carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and other environmental stresses has never been more important. This is why we need both more and cleaner energy.

In 2015, governments took a great stride forward when they reached an agreement in Paris to tackle climate change by limiting the rise in global average temperatures this century to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

In the UK, Shell provided input to the Committee for Climate Change’s 2019 Report which recommended that net zero emissions should be achieved in the UK by 2050. The Government has subsequently accepted this recommendation and, on 27 June 2019, it became law, making the UK the first G7 country to pass such a law.

Achieving this goal is possible but it will require unprecedented collaboration between Government, business and society.

Energy sources across industry and transport as well as in homes will need to transition to low-carbon options. But this will not and cannot happen overnight. The switch to lower carbon energy sources will require huge changes to existing infrastructure and will take time and significant investment.

We recognise the significance of climate change along with the role energy plays in helping people achieve and maintain a good quality of life. A key role for society – and for Shell – is to find ways to provide much more energy while limiting the amount of carbon dioxide produced.

Energy Transition Report

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Shell’s Net Carbon Footprint Ambition

Globally we have set ourselves a long-term ambition to reduce the Net Carbon Footprint (NCF) of the energy products we sell. This is a measure of carbon intensity, expressed in grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per megajoule consumed.

Our aim is to reduce our global NCF by around 20% by 2035, and by around 50% by 2050. And we have linked our near-term targets to executive pay.

Achieving our ambition starts with ensuring our operations use energy as efficiently as possible. But this covers less than 15% of the greenhouse gas associated with our energy products. The rest are caused when customers use our products: by driving their cars, for example.

To play our part, we have started to offer customers more low-carbon products and services. In the UK this includes offering renewable electricity as standard to our Shell Energy customers and supporting the expansion of Electric Vehicle infrastructure. Shell is working across the energy system to trial and deploy solutions that will help accelerate the energy transition across the entire economy – in power, transport, buildings and industry.

Our NCF ambition underpins our decision to explore opportunities in renewable power and new fuels such as electric vehicles and hydrogen and over time it could radically change our portfolio and the products we offer customers.

What is Shell's Net Carbon Footprint ambition?

Our investment in New Energies

We have invested billions of dollars in a range of low-carbon technologies, including biofuels, CCS, hydrogen and wind power that will all be necessary to enable the transition to a lower carbon energy future. In 2016, we set up a global New Energies business to better focus these efforts and explore commercial opportunities in new and fast-growing segments of the energy industry. We are seeking opportunities that build on our strengths and we expect our capital investment in new energies to be $1 - $2 billion on average per year until the end of the decade.

students

Listening to society

Every year in the UK we engage in an active programme of events to listen to other industries, governments and those who challenge and expand our thinking. As an example, you can listen to our Energy Transition Manager, Jo Coleman, speaking on a Spectator podcastread a speech by our Country Chair, Sinead Lynch, given in May 2019 to the British Institute of Energy Economists, or read about the discussions that took place at our Powering Progress Together Forum. To keep up to date with Shell UK’s views on the energy transition you can follow our Country Chair Sinead Lynch on LinkedIn, or join the conversation on Twitter.

Carbon pricing and negative emissions

Shell is encouraging governments to put a price on carbon. This aims to incentivise industry, the power sector and consumers to improve energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and help encourage projects such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) facilities and nature-based solutions .These comprise all activities related to the protection, creation or redevelopment, of natural ecosystems – such as forests, grasslands and wetlands – to help absorb greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. They can help deliver many other benefits, including improvements in biodiversity, water quality, flood protection and livelihoods. 

The role for oil and gas

The role for oil and gas

Today, oil and gas meet two thirds of the UK’s energy needs and will remain essential sources of energy well into the second half of the century.

But continuing to produce oil and gas does not mean the UK cannot also meet its climate change goals. Today the UK produces around 50% of the oil and gas it uses, relying on imports for the rest. Even with the combined efforts of industry and government to maximise economic recovery from the North Sea, UK production of oil and gas is likely to decline over the coming decades, in line with the reduction needed to deliver the UK’s climate change goals.

In the meantime, Shell will continue to invest in oil and gas because, as the recent report from the Committee on Climate Change shows, the UK will still need all the oil and gas it produces by the middle of the century - to fuel heavy road transport, ships, aircraft, to produce cement and steel. As yet, these are all areas where there are few low-carbon solutions, so change will take time.

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Carbon Capture and Storage Projects

Shell is also investing in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects, which use a combination of technologies to capture and store carbon dioxide deep underground.

In the UK, Shell is part of a group of companies studying the feasibility of building one of the first CCS projects in the country. The project is linked to a planned new gas-fired power station in Teesside, with the aim of decarbonising industries in the area. In the first instance, the plant would capture CO2 from the gas plant and transport it by pipeline into depleted oil and gas reservoirs in the North Sea.

CCS Podcast - Listen and subscribe in your preferred podcast here

Goldenrod plant on Mount Broadwood property

Shell scenarios

One of the ways we explore what the future energy system might look like is by developing scenarios. These scenarios help inform our strategy.

We have been developing energy-focused scenarios for almost 50 years, helping generations of Shell leaders, academics, governments and business leaders to consider possible pathways when making decisions. These scenarios stretch our thinking and help us make crucial choices as we grapple with tough energy and environmental challenges.

In 2018, we published our Sky scenario which illustrates a technically possible but challenging pathway for society to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. It is intended to be both an ambitious scenario and a realistic tool to inform dialogue.

Sky scenario

Our approach to sustainability

Sustainability is integral to all Shell activities around the UK. Learn more about our approach to sustainability.

Our approach to sustainability

You may also be interested in

Cleaner Transport

Shell UK 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 lower or no carbon emissions.

Cleaner Power

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.