David Hone, Shell’s climate change advisor.
David Hone gained broad business experience before moving into his current role.

Many may think that the route to a role such as climate change adviser would be through environmental study.

David Hone begs to differ. Having been Shell’s Climate Change Advisor for 16 years, he believes the true benefit he brings to his unique role is a solid background in trading, shipping and the economics of the industry.

He now spends his time liaising and working with groups and individuals outside Shell on climate change, publishing his thoughts on the issue and feeding back learnings to his colleagues inside the company. 

But he began his Shell career in 1980 as a chemical engineering graduate in a Shell refinery, attracted by the prospect of a global career. Then followed more roles in refining in Australia and the Netherlands, and a decade in trading and shipping in London, during which time he travelled extensively.

Knowledge and expertise

“I had to decide what to do with the expertise I’d built up,” says Hone. One job in particular caught his eye - Group Climate Change Adviser, a relatively new position that Shell created in 1998.

“In my interview, my soon-to-be boss was pleased to meet someone who had worked in the refining business and had a detailed knowledge of the energy markets and trading.”

Even then it was clear that the development of climate policy would involve markets and pricing, and present a real challenge to the incumbent businesses.

 Greenland ice.
The role Hone originally took at Shell and the one he has now are worlds apart, he says.

A privilege and a challenge

Hone imagined that this would be another three to four-year assignment, but, 16 years later, he remains immersed in the job.

“The role I originally took and the one I have now are worlds apart,” he says. “Much has happened in that time culminating last December in the Paris Agreement - a global agreement to manage greenhouse gas emissions for the decades ahead and tackle climate change.

“Being part of this over such a long period has been rewarding, a huge privilege and very challenging. It perhaps isn’t where I expected my career to go, but I am glad that it did.”

Real business grounding

From time to time, people considering a career in environmental management ask Hone where they should start and what steps they might take: “I almost never recommend that they start in an environmental role. Rather, building real business experience developing new projects, troubleshooting problems in existing facilities and understanding the economics of the energy industry is my steer.

“My own experience has led me to believe that a grounding in all aspects of the business is essential in tackling major issues such as climate change. My advice to new graduates would be to explore opportunities on the Shell Graduate Programme and consider, as a starting point, one of the wide range of jobs Shell has to offer. Then look towards the longer journey of change.”

Twenty years of change

1997 – 2001: Foundations for change established by former Shell Chairman Sir Mark Moody-Stuart. He catalysed the necessary focus on the climate issue and had the foresight to establish a carbon trading desk within Shell Trading.

2005: CEO Jeroen van der Veer created the CO2 team and gave it high visibility within the company. Eventually led to developments such as the Quest carbon capture and storage project in Canada.

2016: New energies business starts up. Current CEO Ben van Beurden champions our position on issues such as government implemented carbon pricing. Shell publishes scenario thinking on a net-zero emissions energy system of the future.

Read David’s blog in full to find out more about his exciting role and more information about his thoughts on climate change.

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