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Shell promises to accelerate its energy transition after legal setback

The oil giant Shell on Wednesday promised to accelerate its climate strategy by further reducing its carbon emissions, following an unfavorable court ruling in the Netherlands, but without revealing concrete measures or a precise timetable.

This verdict, which the group plans to appeal, “does not mean a change but rather an acceleration of our strategy,” writes CEO Ben van Beurden in a text published on the website of the Anglo-Dutch group.

“From now on, we will look for ways to further reduce our emissions in a thoughtful and profitable manner”, adds the leader.

He specifies that “this will probably mean taking ambitious but measured measures in the years to come”, without giving any details.

At the end of May, the court in The Hague, seized by NGOs, had ordered Shell to make more efforts to lower its “enormous” CO2 emissions, asking it to reduce them by 45% in net by the end of 2030 compared to to 2019.

The group told him in February that it planned to reduce – compared to 2016 – its net carbon intensity by 20% by 2030, 45% by 2035 and completely (100%) by 2050.

Shell had announced then that it expected to appeal, which his boss confirmed on Wednesday.

“Two weeks later, I am still disappointed” by the decision, underlines Mr. van Beurden, recalling that it applies “immediately” and will not be suspended during the appeal.

But according to him, there is no question of abandoning hydrocarbons, oil and gas, which represent the overwhelming majority of the group’s profits, and must finance the energy transition.

“For a long period of time, we expect to continue to supply energy in the form of oil and gas products to meet customer demand and to maintain the financial strength of the company,” writes the manager.

He justifies himself by explaining that if Shell stopped selling gasoline or diesel, “it would certainly reduce emissions”, but “the demand for the fuel would not change”.

“People would refuel their cars or trucks at other gas stations,” he said.

Shell had succeeded in gaining overwhelming support from its shareholders in May for its “green” strategy of reducing its dependence on oil and gas and becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

But a dissenting proposal by conservationists pushing Shell to do more received strong support, with nearly 21% of the vote, a sign of increased shareholder pressure on oil groups.

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