Shell CEO pledges faster carbon emissions cuts after Dutch court ruling

By Laura Hurst on 6/9/2021


Shell CEO Ben van Beurden
Shell CEO Ben van Beurden

LONDON (Bloomberg) --Royal Dutch Shell will accelerate its carbon emissions cuts, taking “bold but measured” steps in the transition to cleaner energy, following a Dutch court ruling last month that said the company’s climate plans weren’t sufficient.


The oil and gas giant still expects to appeal the verdict and believes it has been unjustly singled out, Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said in a statement posted on LinkedIn. However, the company also feels “determination to rise to the challenge” posed by the ruling, he said.

“We will seek ways to reduce emissions even further in a way that remains purposeful and profitable,” van Beurden said.

A court in the Hague on May 26 ordered Shell to slash its emissions harder and quicker than planned, after determining that the company’s plan -- to curb by 20% within a decade, and to net-zero before 2050 -- didn’t go far enough. The verdict could have far-reaching consequences for the rest of the global fossil fuel industry.

Related story: Shell loses precedent-setting climate change case in Dutch court

Oil majors have come under intense pressure to cut down emissions and ramp up investments into cleaner sources of energy. On the same day that Shell was ordered to do more on emissions, investors ousted two ExxonMobil Corp. board members and Chevron Corp. shareholders voted in favor of a proposal to reduce pollution from its own customers.

Mixed Support

Shell’s own shareholders have given the company mixed support for its transition plans. At its annual general meeting in May, Shell received 89% of support from investors for its climate plans, something that the court didn’t take into consideration, van Beurden said. Still, 30% of shareholders also voted in favor of a competing proposal asking the energy giant to set more stringent emissions targets.

The Anglo-Dutch major is ramping up investments into cleaner sources of energy, but it expects to continue pumping and selling oil and gas “for a long time to come” which will “maintain a financially strong company,” according to van Beurden.

He also singled out the focus on reducing demand as being misguided. Shell can reduce its carbon footprint by stopping sales of petrol and diesel, but demand for the fuels would not change.

“The energy transition is far too big a challenge for one company to tackle,” he said.

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