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 climate target

Shell’s target is to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, in step with society’s progress in achieving the goal of the UN Paris Agreement on climate change.

Becoming a net-zero emissions energy business means that we are reducing emissions from our operations, and from the fuels and other energy products we sell to our customers. It also means capturing and storing any remaining emissions using technology or balancing them with offsets.

We are transforming our business to meet our target, providing more low-carbon energy such as charging for electric vehicles, hydrogen and electricity generated by solar and wind power. We are also working with our customers as they make changes too, including in sectors that are difficult to decarbonise such as aviation, shipping, road freight and industry.

What is Shell’s climate target?

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.


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 they will remain essential sources of energy well into the second half of the century. This is because, as the recent government report from the Committee on Climate Change shows, the UK will still need all the oil and gas it produces to fuel heavy road transport, ships, aircraft, to produce cement and steel. So far, these are areas where there are few low-carbon solutions. Change is on the way, and that is very encouraging, but it will take time.

Continuing to produce oil and gas does not prevent the UK becoming ‘net carbon zero’ by 2050 because the rate at which the UK’s 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.

So right now Shell will continue to invest in oil and gas, as well as new energies, because the UK energy system relies on them.

Vehicles on road

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.

In Scotland we are exploring the potential role for Shell in a Scottish CCS Cluster (Acorn) and are working with Pale Blue Dot and other partners to develop a better understanding of how existing facilities at St. Fergus, together with offshore pipeline infrastructure, may provide a catalyst project for the region. We are currently providing our input and expertise through a Technical Development Service Agreement.

CCS Podcast - Listen and subscribe 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

You may also be interested in

Cleaner Transport

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.

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.