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Ben van Beurden, who has been nominated new chief executive officer of Royal Dutch Shell, is seen in this Dec. 12, 2012 handout photo.Handout/Reuters

Royal Dutch Shell Plc will call on the oil industry to speak up about global warming as executives at the world's second-biggest energy producer fear losing ground to environmental voices.

"In the past we thought it was better to keep a low profile on the issue," Chief Executive Officer Ben Van Beurden said in remarks prepared for a conference Thursday in London. "It's not a good tactic. We have to make sure that our voice is heard by members of government, by civil society and the general public."

U.S. competitors led by Exxon Mobil Corp. have acknowledged climate change poses risks to life and property while avoiding specific policy recommendations. As institutions such as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Stanford University divest fossil fuel holdings and nations work toward a deal to limit emissions, energy producers must inject "realism and practicality" into the debate, according to Mr. Van Beurden's remarks.

While The Hague-based Shell, along with BP Plc of London, have led the oil industry in acknowledging climate change as a problem, the industry has avoided forums such as the annual United Nations climate talks. Shell, whose $421-billion in annual sales exceeds the economic output of entire nations such as Denmark or Taiwan, has backed carbon trading and storing captured emissions underground as a way to pare back pollution.

"Our industry should be less aloof, more assertive," according to Mr. Van Beurden's remarks.

Energy Conservation

While accepting that greenhouse gases enhance risks associated with climate change, Exxon has said carbon caps, emissions trading regimes and other measures will inflict economic pain on the poorest consumers and impede efforts to lift developing nations out of poverty.

The Irving, Texas-based company, which sells more than 4 million gallons of gasoline an hour, says energy conservation, greater use of natural gas in place of coal and more research into technologies such as hybrid automobile engines are the most practical, affordable response to climate change.

"Creating solutions that protect the environment without undermining the poor and global economic growth is one of the world's greatest challenges," Exxon said in a report published last year detailing efforts to curb greenhouse gases and enhance human-rights protections.

Environmental groups have dominated the debate over how to shape global warming policy, according to Mr. Van Beurden's remarks. That has boosted solutions such as emissions targets over policies that encourage investors to back technologies to cut pollution.

Coal-Fired Plants

In Germany, carbon dioxide emissions have jumped because utilities are using more coal plants to back up power from the country's rapidly expanding wind- and solar-power industry.

So-called cap-and-trade programs that seek to suppress emissions by making it more costly to burn carbon-rich fuels have shown mixed results. In the 28-nation European Union, the price of emissions permits lost almost 70 percent of their value since 2008, erasing any incentive for power plants and factories to quit burning coal.

Carbon allowances for delivery in December rose 1.1 per cent to €7.39 ($8.41) a metric ton at 3 p.m. on ICE Futures Europe in London.

"I'm well aware that the industry's credibility is an issue," according to Mr. Van Beurden's remarks. "To make our voice heard, our sector needs to enter into the public debate alongside other credible parties - ranging from academics to non-governmental organizations and policy makers."