British-Dutch oil major Royal Dutch Shell has made it clear this week that, at least publicly, it has no interest in doing business as usual, rebuking US President Donald Trump and his administration to tighten methane while at the same time announcing it plans to be the largest power company in the world by the early 2030s.
Maarten Wetselaar, the Director of Shell’s Integrated Gas & New Energies division, sat down with Bloomberg Television on Monday and promised that Shell “can be the largest electricity power company in the world in the early 2030s.”
“We are not interested in the power business because we like what we saw in the last 20 years,” Wetselaar said, “we are interested because we think we like what we see in the next 20 years.”
And Shell is putting its money where its Director of Integrated Gas & New Energies’ mouth is, with the company spending as much as $2 billion a year on its new-energies division in an effort to grow its power sector.
Wetselaar’s pronouncement doesn’t come from out of the blue, either, as it follows on from several “big deal” announcements the company has made over the past several months, highlighted by the company’s new climate targets announced in December 2018 and developed in partnership with institutional investors on behalf of Climate Action 100+.
“Meeting the challenge of tackling climate change requires unprecedented collaboration and this is demonstrated by our engagements with investors,” said Shell Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden at the time. “We are taking important steps towards turning our Net Carbon Footprint ambition into reality by setting shorter-term targets. This ambition positions the company well for the future and seeks to ensure we thrive as the world works to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.”
Shell’s new targets included new public short-term Net Carbon Footprint targets which will be linked to executive pay — a move which was praised by investors.
“We applaud the joint statement by Shell and lead investors for Climate Action 100+,” said Anne Simpson, the inaugural Chair of the Climate Action 100+ Steering Committee and Director of Board Governance and Strategy at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS). “The commitment by Shell to fully respond to the engagement shows the value of dialogue and global partnership to deliver on the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change. Shell is setting the pace, and we look forward to other major companies following its lead.”
Shell has also invested in developing a total of 1.6 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind off the coast of Massachusetts in partnership with EDP Renewables, partnered to bring to market a new floating wind demonstration project, and acquired German energy storage and solution provider sonnen.
At the same time as Maarten Wetselaar was laying out the path for the company’s future, Shell’s US Country Chair Gretchen Watkins called on the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to tighten methane restrictions from oil and gas operations (a move similarly being echoed by ExxonMobil).
“We are pleased that companies like Exxon and Shell acknowledge the need for federal methane regulation,” said Lila Holzman, energy program manager of As You Sow. “Smart methane controls represent the low-hanging fruit that companies should implement while transitioning their business models toward complete Paris-compliance.”
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