Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Canada’s most-awarded
newsroom for a reason
Stay informed for a
lot less, cancel anytime
“Exemplary reporting on
COVID-19” – Herman L
per week
for 24 weeks
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Ben van Beurden, chief executive officer of Royal Dutch Shell, speaks during the 26th World Gas Conference in Paris on June 2, 2015.

Benoit Tessier/Reuters

Royal Dutch Shell vowed to eliminate net carbon emissions by 2050, raising its ambition from previous targets, as its oil output declines from a 2019 peak.

The Anglo-Dutch company is in the midst of its largest overhaul yet as it prepares to expand its renewables and low-carbon business in the face of growing investor pressure on the oil and gas sector to battle climate change.

Shell last year laid out a plan to reach net zero by 2050, in line with the Paris climate agreement and European Union ambitions, but it said the goal depended on its customers.

Story continues below advertisement

In a strategy update on Thursday, Shell outlined plans to curb its emissions through rapid growth of its low-carbon businesses, including biofuels and hydrogen, although spending will stay tilted towards oil and gas in the near future.

“We will use our established strengths to build on our competitive portfolio as we make the transition,” CEO Ben van Beurden said in a statement.

Investors welcomed the upgraded targets.

“Shell’s net zero target is industry-leading and comprehensive as it covers all their carbon emissions,” Adam Matthews, Director of Ethics & Engagement for the Church of England Pensions Board, who led investor engagement with Shell, said in a statement.

Shareholders have an advisory vote on Shell’s transition plan at this year’s general meeting, an industry first, Matthews added.

Although such votes would be non-binding, investors see them as a mechanism to hold management publicly accountable for their progress on meeting targets to cut emissions.

Shell shares were down 1.9 per cent at 1142 GMT at 1337 pence, dragging on the FTSE 100 index.

Story continues below advertisement

Historically, oil projects have delivered a return on investment of at least 15 per cent, while renewables developers expect 6 per cent-9 per cent, but Shell and BP have said their complex marketing and trading units can increase renewable returns to around 10 per cent.

Shell’s strategy is to remain reliant on its retail business, the world’s largest. It has a goal to increase the number of sites to 55,000 by 2025 from today’s 46,000 and increase the number of electric vehicle charging points to 500,000 from 60,000 now.

It did not outline plans to grow its solar and wind power generation capacity, marking a difference from rivals, such as BP and Total, which aim to boost their ownership of physical wind and solar farms.

Van Beurden said Shell aims to sell 560 terrawatt-hours of power a year by 2030, doubling current volumes, but said it was too early to say how much of this would come from its own capacity.


In the near term, Shell will invest at least $5 billion a year in what it calls its growth pillar, dividing the investment roughly equally between its trading and retail business and renewables units. It previously aimed to spend up to $3 billion on renewables and marketing combined.

Its upstream business, or oil and gas production, will attract a larger share of its budget at $8 billion.

Story continues below advertisement

It will also spend $4 billion on its liquefied natural gas (LNG) business and up to $5 billion on chemicals and refining. Total spending is expected to remain within a range of $19 to $22 billion per year.

For shareholder returns and financing the transition away from hydrocarbons, Shell will rely on revenue from its oil and gas division.


Most European energy majors have set some kind of net-zero carbon target by 2050.

The ambition of Shell, the world’s largest oil and gas trader, stands out in that it covers the emissions from the end-use of products other companies have produced but which it sells to customers.

Its total emissions peaked in 2018 at 1.7 gigatonnes.

Oil production peaked in 2019 at around 1.8 million barrels per day and is expected to recede by 1 per cent to 2 per cent each year, including divestments of oilfields and the natural decline of fields.

Story continues below advertisement

Shell aims to reduce its net carbon intensity by between 6 per cent and 8 per cent from 2016 levels by 2023. The target rises to 20 per cent by 2030, 45 per cent by 2035 and 100 per cent by the middle of the century.

The company previously said it would reduce its net carbon footprint emission intensity metric by at least 3 per cent by 2022, 30 per cent by 2035 and 65 per cent by 2050 from a 2016 baseline.

Intensity levels represent emissions per unit of energy produced, technically allowing higher production.

To offset emissions from its hydrocarbon products, it plans to re-inject emissions into the ground or plant trees, a strategy Greenpeace said is delusional.

Greenpeace also said Shell’s plans did not reduce hydrocarbon production enough.

“Without commitments to reduce absolute emissions by making actual oil production cuts, this new strategy can’t succeed nor can it be taken seriously,” Mel Evans, the head of Greenpeace UK’s oil campaign, said.

Story continues below advertisement

Be smart with your money. Get the latest investing insights delivered right to your inbox three times a week, with the Globe Investor newsletter. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies