In tackling climate change, the focus is increasingly on limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5° Celsius. Shell supports this ambition.

For society to achieve a 1.5° Celsius future, the world is likely to need to stop adding to the stock of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere – a state known as net-zero emissions – by around 2060. Advanced parts of the world are likely to need to reach that point by 2050.

That is why Shell has set itself an ambition to become, by 2050 or sooner, a net-zero emissions energy business, in step with society.

We will work towards this in three ways.

Firstly, by seeking to be net zero on all the emissions from the manufacture of all our products by 2050 at the latest.

This ambition includes the emissions created by our operations and also those associated with the energy we consume. These are known as scope one and two emissions.

But the bulk of the emissions are our customers’ emissions when they use our products, known as scope three emissions.

Reducing Shell’s Net Carbon Footprint

That is why Shell’s second step towards being a net-zero emissions energy business is to reduce the Net Carbon Footprint of our energy products.

To achieve this Shell will need to sell more products with a lower carbon intensity, such as renewable power, biofuels and hydrogen.

In 2017 Shell’s ambition was to be in step with a society working towards a well-below 2° Celsius future. Today Shell’s ambition is to be in step with a society working towards a 1.5° Celsius future. So we have raised our Net Carbon Footprint ambition.

Long-term ambition

Our long-term ambition is to reduce the Net Carbon Footprint of the energy products we sell by 65% by 2050, instead of 50%. Shell’s interim, medium-term, ambition is to reduce it by 30% by 2035, instead of 20%. Read more about our Net Carbon Footprint ambition here.

Yet society will continue to need some energy products that create emissions for the foreseeable future. So Shell will continue to sell such energy products.

But that does not mean Shell cannot be a net-zero emissions energy business, because our customers can themselves take action on their emissions.

As society moves towards its low-carbon future our customers will need to mitigate emissions caused by their energy use because they will need to reduce their own scope one and two emissions. But these are the same emissions that count as Shell’s scope three emissions. That is why such actions by our customers can help Shell become a net-zero emissions business.

 

Working with our customers

So, to achieve our ambitions we must help our customers decarbonise – and that is the third step Shell must take if it is to become a net-zero emissions energy business.

It means working with our customers to address the emissions which are produced when they use the fuels they buy from Shell.

That effort includes working with broad coalitions of businesses, governments and other parties, sector by sector, to identify and enable decarbonisation pathways for each sector.

Many paths to net-zero emissions

Each sector will need to find its own way to achieve net-zero emissions but all sectors share the same three ways to make progress.

Firstly, by being more energy efficient; secondly, by using lower-carbon energy products; and, thirdly, by storing away emissions that cannot be avoided, either through nature or using the technology that already exists to capture and store away CO2.

Shell can help push progress in all those areas, and must pivot over time towards serving the businesses and sectors that, by 2050, are net-zero emissions themselves.

As we get closer to 2050, we will work ever more intensely with customers who still have emissions they have not fully mitigated. The answer may be through actions they take themselves, or Shell may agree to find a way to mitigate those emissions on the customers’ behalf.

Changing to embrace a net-zero emissions future

Shell’s business plans today will not get us to where we want to be. That means our business plans have to change over time as society and our customers also change.

It is in this way – by changing – that Shell can succeed in becoming a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, and in being an integral part of a net-zero emissions future.
 

Further reading

What is Shell's Net Carbon Footprint ambition?

Shell is a big company that supplies around 3% of the energy the world uses. We want to play our part and contribute to the global effort to tackle climate change and meet the goal of the Paris Agreement. Working towards our Net Carbon Footprint ambition is how we plan to do this.

Shell's Net Carbon Footprint ambition: frequently asked questions

Shell wants to play our part and contribute to the global effort to tackle climate change and meet the goal of the Paris Agreement. Here you can find further questions and answers on Shell’s Net Carbon Footprint ambition and how we plan to meet it.

Scenario Sketches

The Scenarios team provides ‘big picture’ insights about how the world is changing – politically, economically, technologically and socially - into sketches to help think about the future.