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Shell's net zero plan ticks all the boxes, the big question is affordability

Commenting on Shell's announcement of its net-zero strategy,

Professor David Elmes, Head of the Global Enenrgy Research Network at Warwick Business School, said:

“Shell’s new strategy today places the company in the growing group of energy companies committing to net zero emissions and move on from being an oil and gas company.

2021 02 11 111229“It’s ticking all the boxes: emissions from their own operations, their own products they sell, and products from other companies they sell too. 

"The plan comes with milestone reductions along the way that are linked to managers’ pay and an energy transition plan put to a shareholder vote every three years.  This reaches a level of transparency and accountability that not all their rivals have committed to.”

“But as a set of the international oil and gas companies move away from fossil fuels, the questions is can they fund the transition.

"Until about five years ago, profits at these companies varied but were generally high enough to pay significant dividends to shareholders – and into the pension funds we all rely on. 

  "There are some big technology bets in Shell’s plans: carbon capture and storage, more biofuels and replacing natural gas with hydrogen.  These need a lot of investment to deliver volume at affordable prices.  There’s also a shift to focusing more on customers: filling stations that serve EVs and helping customers be more efficient by offering energy as a service.

“Shell is a company with the capability to deliver big technology changes and arguably has always kept more directly in touch with customers.

"Today’s plan is certainly a transformation, the question is can they afford it.  When BP launched their new strategy recently, a discussion among shareholders was can they earn enough profits to invest in the changes while keeping investors happy with dividends. It’s that level of detail that Shell needs to provide.”