The vegetation covering around a third of the world’s surface is vital to maintaining the planet's natural balance. It supports intricate wildlife systems and helps maintain a healthy atmosphere, by taking in carbon dioxide (CO2) and releasing oxygen.

Yet it is under threat: from human activities, such as clearing woodland for farming and illegal logging, as well as climate change.

What are nature-based solutions?

Nature-based solutions, or natural climate solutions, are projects which protect, transform or restore land. In this way, nature absorbs more CO2 emissions from the atmosphere. These projects can lead to the marketing, trading and sale of carbon credits.

The protection and restoration of natural ecosystems could play an important role in limiting global warming to below 1.5°C, while bringing additional environmental and social benefits, according to studies cited by the International Panel on Climate Change.i

They also have further benefits such as offering alternative sources of income to local communities, improving soil productivity, cleaning air and water, and maintaining biodiversity.

What is a carbon credit?

A credit represents the avoidance or removal of greenhouse gases equivalent to 1 tonne of CO2.

Why is Shell investing in nature?

We are working to cut the emissions from our own operations, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy that our customers use. There is no single solution.

Our approach includes improving the energy efficiency of our operations; selling more, cleaner-burning natural gas; generating electricity from solar and wind; and providing lower-carbon fuels such as biofuels and hydrogen, as well as more electric-vehicle charging points. We are also supporting nature-based solutions.

Nature-based solutions can make a big contribution to our ambition to be a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, or sooner. They have a role to play in reducing the carbon intensity of the energy products we sell, as well as addressing our customers’ emissions footprint when they use energy products bought from Shell.

What is Shell doing in nature-based solutions?

Shell intends to make significant investments in projects that use nature to reduce CO2 emissions, while bringing wider benefits.

As a start, in the Netherlands, we are supporting Staatsbosbeheer, the Dutch National Forestry Department, to plant more than 5 million trees over the next 12 years.

Shell has also signed an agreement with Land Life Company to create a 300-hectare reforestation project in Spain. Around 300,000 trees have been planted in the Castilla y Leon region.

In the UK, Shell has partnered with Forestry and Land Scotland, the Scottish government agency. Over the coming years, our support will help plant or regenerate around 1 million trees.

We also buy and sell carbon credits and are one of the most established traders of carbon credits in the world. The growing number of verified projects from which we buy credits is helping more customers meet their sustainability commitments.

Which offers are available to Shell customers?

We have started to offer customers at our fuel stations nature-based carbon credits to offset the CO2 emissions generated by the extraction, refining, distribution and use of the Shell fuel they buy. This offer is available in the Netherlands and the UK.

We also offer nature-based carbon credits to business customers operating heavy- and light-duty fleets in 10 countries across Europe and Asia.

In addition, we have delivered carbon-neutralii liquefied natural gas to business customers in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea.

For marine lubricant customers, we offer nature-based carbon credits. These complement our existing offers to help ship owners and operators improve their vessels’ engine efficiency, reducing how much energy and lubricant they use.

Bitumen is used in road paving and construction. We offer nature-based carbon credits to bitumen customers in Europe to offset the CO2 emissions generated by the extraction, manufacture and storage of bitumen at the refinery.

How can I trust the projects that Shell has selected?

To help ensure the projects in which we invest have high levels of quality and integrity, we have developed a bespoke screening process.

  • We only select projects that are certified under credible, high-quality and independent carbon credit standards
    Working with industry expert PricewaterhouseCoopers, we have assessed and approved a range of global carbon credit standards, including both voluntary and government standards. These include the Verified Carbon Standard, Gold Standard and the American Carbon Registry. We only use carbon credits for our customer programmes if they have been issued by projects and resulting carbon credits that are certified under an approved standard. We do this to ensure the carbon credits are, among other features, real, unique, additional, permanent and third-party verified.
  • We select projects that deliver wider environmental and social benefits
    We also assess our projects against the requirements of the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards (CCB). The CCB Standards assess projects not only for their climate change benefits, but also for other positive social and environmental impacts, including the protection of biodiversity. For projects not accredited with the CCB label, our work with PwC to develop additional checks helps ensure our approved projects deliver benefits in line with these standards.
  • We work to ensure project developers maintain appropriate health, safety, security and social governance standards
    We expect the projects to have a net positive impact. Our partners must ensure they employ the necessary standards and processes to mitigate against the Health, Safety, Security and Environment risks – including human rights violations – associated with their projects. We manage this commercially through our contracting, as well as through due diligence on companies and organisations before we do business with them.
  • Our internal nature-based project screening review and management processes are audited by an independent third-party
    Each year, we engage a third-party auditor to verify the integrity of the processes we use for the screening of our nature-based projects. A copy of the assurance statements can be found below.

NBS assurance

We undertake external verification of the integrity of the processes for the screening of third-party NBS projects that generate carbon credits for voluntary use. We also undertake external verification of the integrity of the processes for carbon credit procurement, reconciliation, retirement and Shell-branded certificate production, in support of Shell’s Net Carbon Footprint and Customer Value Propositions (CVP).

The assurance statements for these scopes can be found below.

  1. Limited assurance of the integrity of the processes for the screening of third-party NBS projects that generate carbon credits for voluntary use.
  2. Limited assurance of the integrity of the processes for carbon credit procurement, reconciliation, retirement and Shell-branded certificate production, in support of Shell’s Net CVP.

i https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/sites/2/2019/02/SR15_Chapter2_Low_Res.pdf

ii “Carbon neutral” indicates that Shell has engaged in a transaction to ensure that an amount of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO₂e) to that associated with the raw material extraction and transport, production, distribution and usage of the product or fuel has been removed from the atmosphere through a nature-based process or emissions saved through avoided degradation of natural ecosystems.

READ MORE

Nature’s role in the fight against climate change

Protecting and restoring ecosystems is one of the many ways to reduce carbon emissions. Find out more about our projects around the world.

Sowing seeds for the future

A project to preserve and extend an ancient forest in the Scottish Highlands offers a lifeline for wildlife. It can also help tackle climate change.

The Energy Podcast: Trees, one way to tackle climage change?

Can conserving and planting trees help address climate change? And if so, to what effect? The Energy Podcast looks at the debate.

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