Shell’s target is to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050 or sooner, in step with society. As part of this, we are increasingly working with customers, governments, and others to help address carbon emissions in different sectors.

But some are much harder to decarbonise than others: for example, shipping, heavy-freight trucks and aviation, as well as factories making steel and other products that require high temperatures.

Together, these sectors account for around 30% of global carbon emissions every year.

This share of carbon emissions is expected to grow as other sectors – such as power, buildings, and light transport – decarbonise. Reducing emissions in these more challenging sectors requires urgent and significant collaboration between industry, governments and customers.

solar panels in a city


Electricity generated by wind and solar power plays a direct role in reducing emissions in passenger transport and parts of industry. It can also be used to create hydrogen. Hydrogen provides a low-carbon alternative for heavy-duty road freight, shipping, industry and, possibly, aviation.

We are exploring ways to produce hydrogen using offshore wind power. In 2020, together with Dutch energy company Eneco, we won the Hollandse Kust (Noord) offshore wind tender. We hope to connect Hollandse Kust (Noord) to what is expected to be one of Europe's largest green hydrogen plants in Rotterdam.

Shell and electricity

cargo ship with containers


Around 80% of the volume of world trade is today transported by ships. International shipping accounted for around 2% of global energy-related CO2 emissions in 2019.

We believe that shipping can reach net-zero emissions by 2050, with a change in fuel and technology and with the help of carbon offsets. We are calling on the International Maritime Organisation to set this as a target. We see hydrogen, used with fuel cells, as the most promising zero-emissions fuel for the future. Energy-efficiency technologies and engine lubricants can also improve efficiency to cut emissions.

Using liquefied natural gas (LNG) offers another way to cut emissions today. When compared with heavy fuel oil, the most common source of shipping fuel today, from extraction to combustion, LNG can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 15-21% depending on the engine.

We outlined the actions we are taking to help accelerate progress towards net-zero emissions in the shipping sector in our report Setting Shell’s Course. We are also an active member of the Global Maritime Forum’s Getting to Zero coalition and the Sea Cargo Charter.

Decarbonising shipping

Man besides a truck in cargo port

Road freight

With around 217 million trucks and buses, road freight accounts for about 9% of global carbon dioxide emissions – and demand for road freight is set to double before 2050.

A range of low- and zero-emission options are available today. But each are at different stages of readiness for commercial use.

While electricity is an option for lighter trucks and shorter distances, hydrogen offers the most promising solution to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 for heavy-duty vehicles and over longer distances.

Shell is working with partners to develop hydrogen infrastructure in several countries. In the USA, we are working with the Port of Los Angeles, Toyota Motor Corp. and Kenworth Truck Co to enable hydrogen trucks to operate out of the Port of Los Angeles.

As fleets switch to new vehicle models with batteries for electricity or hydrogen, some vehicles will still need fuels that work with existing engines.

Liquefied natural gas (LNG), renewable natural gas (RNG), biofuels blended into conventional fuels and capturing carbon, using nature and technology, will help the sector reduce its carbon emissions.

Decarbonising road freight

Man in front of a plane at an airport apron


Aviation accounted for 3% of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2019. While COVID-19 dramatically reduced flights in 2020, passenger numbers are expected to double to 8.2 billion by 2037, leading to a rise in CO2 emissions.

One way to cut carbon is by using Sustainable Aviation Fuel, which can be made from biomass and waste. Another solution could be for hydrogen to play a role in the decarbonisation of the aviation industry.

We continue to work closely with our partners to assess the development of hydrogen and Sustainable Aviation Fuel for planes. Any remaining emissions can be offset through the purchase of carbon credits.

Shell is working with World Energy, Neste and Red Rock to develop a scalable supply of Sustainable Aviation Fuel made from renewable raw materials and waste products. In partnership with World Energy, Shell Aviation has agreed to supply up to 6 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel to Amazon Air, for example.

Shell is also a founding member of Clean Skies for Tomorrow, a coalition of leading airlines, airports, manufacturers, and fuel providers.

Decarbonising aviation

Man working in steel industry


Many industrial processes require high temperatures, chemical reactions, or dense energy storage. These are not easy to electrify and account for a significant share of global CO2 emissions.

One important way to address industrial emissions is through improvements in energy efficiency. For example, we are installing new furnaces at our Moerdijk petrochemicals plant in the Netherlands. This could reduce the plant’s annual CO2 emissions by around 10%.

Another approach is to use renewable energy sources for production. At the Shell Rhineland Refinery in Germany, we are working to install – together with ITM Power – the world’s largest hydrogen proton exchange membrane electrolyser to produce hydrogen using renewable energy.

Capturing, reusing or safely storing carbon emissions from plants and factories – carbon capture, utilisation and storage, or CCUS – also helps to decarbonise industry.

Shell is part of the Northern Lights project, focused on transporting and storing CO2 from industrial facilities in Norway and potentially from across other countries in Europe.

Find out what we are doing in our chemicals business.

Shell is also using intricate digital modelling technologies to explore how heavy industry in different parts of the world might decarbonise. The first areas of focus are on cement and steel in India.

Find out more

Decarbonising Shipping

Shell is working with customers and partners in the shipping industry to help accelerate decarbonisation towards a net-zero emissions future for shipping.

Renewables and Energy Solutions (formerly New Energies)

The global energy system is changing. A planet destined for more people and rising living standards will need more energy. But the world must also find ways to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change. Shell’s New Energies business focuses on new fuels and power.

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