Carbon neutral lubricants: The next step in our journey towards net zero
Feb 23, 2021
Carlos Maurer, Shell’s Executive Vice President, Sectors & Decarbonisation, on how Shell Lubricants offers customers around the world an expanded portfolio of carbon neutral lubricants.
I’ve always loved travelling. It gives me a great sense of freedom and a break from routine – the opportunity to act spontaneously, visit new places and meet people, both old friends and new acquaintances. Getting out and about allows me to see what’s happening in the countries where we do business and speak to our customers. It’s been incredible to witness the pace of progress over the last few decades – whether in big cities or smaller, more rural areas. But economic growth and urbanisation come with a significant challenge: together, the transport and industry sectors account for roughly 40% of all global greenhouse emissions1.
Reducing transport and industry emissions will be essential for another journey – the road to net-zero emissions. And like many journeys we face, this is one that will have obstacles along the way. But it is a necessary one. And one that reflects the expectations of society and changing purchasing behaviours. And, like my first road trips, it will take several elements working together – the right drivers, accurate navigation, and effective infrastructure – to reach our destination on time, or sooner.
The roadmap to a lower-carbon future
Just as the world becomes more urbanised, lubricants will continue to play an important role in changing the industry and transport sectors. In short, we must carefully consider how these lubricants contribute to our overall carbon footprint.
Shell has a target to be a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, in step with society’s progress towards achieving net zero. As the world’s leading lubricants supplier, we’re working hard to balance the growing need for lubricants while reducing its carbon intensity. We’re also working closely with others in the industry to collaborate on getting closer to achieve a lower carbon future.
At Shell’s global Strategy Day two weeks ago, we shared our plans for accelerating our transformation into a provider of net-zero emissions energy products and services, giving our 30 million retail and 1 million plus commercial and industrial customers access to the solutions they both want and need to reduce their own environmental impact.
This is all part of Shell’s ambition to deliver improved performance with lower emissions, fewer natural resources, and less waste. It also informs our “Avoid, Reduce, Offset” emissions strategy, which recognises that while avoiding and reducing are the most effective ways to tackle emissions long term, offsetting provides an immediate solution until the former can be suitably scaled and deployed.
Which brings me to today’s announcement.
Introducing carbon neutral lubricants
Customers want to reduce their net carbon footprint. And we want to work with them to provide the products and solutions to achieve exactly that.
Today, we unveil one of these solutions, offering customers carbon neutral lubricants across a range of products for passenger cars, heavy-duty diesel engines and industrial applications. By doing this, we:
- Aim to offset annual emissions of more than 200 million litres of advanced synthetic lubricants, which equates to around 700,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).
- Plan to launch these carbon neutral lubricants in all European markets, the UK, Russia, the US, Canada, China, South Korea, India, Indonesia and Egypt, with an intention to further roll out the offer worldwide.
This is the largest carbon neutral programme in the lubricants industry. It’s a declaration of how seriously Shell is taking decarbonisation and it shows our clear intent to help customers level up their own sustainability measures.
Significant mile markers: China and the US
It’s undoubtedly an ambitious initiative, but we’re confident it will help accelerate an industry transformation. Why? Because progress is already underway.
China was the first market to launch this range of Shell carbon neutral lubricants (Shell Helix Ultra 0W and 5W) nationwide from 10,000 locations in May 2020. We took this step in response to customer demand. It is also aligned with the country’s commitment to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060, announced in September that year.
In addition, the US extended its Pennzoil carbon neutral range nationwide in July 2020, which is estimated to compensate for more than 90kt CO2e emissions annually across the full lifecycle2. We’ve also used Ecobox for several years as an alternative to traditional plastic packaging for light-duty vehicle motor oil, reducing plastic usage by more than 80% and CO2e emissions by more than 60%3.
A collective journey
Today’s announcement is important, but we know it is not the end of the journey. We need consistent action to continue in order to reach our destination.
Clearly, the transport and industry sectors are transforming. At Shell we want to lead by example by changing our own operations, while supporting our customers and others through developing and delivering more and cleaner energy solutions worldwide. But we can’t do it alone.
So please reach out to me or my colleagues if you’re a company that has great, scalable ideas to help our industry make progress towards decarbonisation. Perhaps you have an idea for how we can use lubricants to improve energy efficiency, or are interested in digital services which will help us reduce carbon emissions. Maybe you have an idea for lower carbon packaging technologies for lubricants. Whatever your suggestion, I’d love to hear from you. We will go further together.
1 Our World in Data. “Sector by sector: where do global greenhouse gas emissions come from?” OurWorldinData.org. September 18, 2020. (accessed February 17, 2021).
2 Pennzoil. “Our Carbon Neutral Ambition.” Pennzoil.com (accessed February 17, 2021).
3 Internal analysis.