Reforestation: Shell CEO calls for action

Shell reforestation
© iStock/RiverNorthPhotography

Ben van Beurden, CEO of Shell, has spoken about the need for reforestation, advocating for a tree-planting project the size of “another Brazil”.

Speaking at the Oil and Money conference in London, van Beurden told attendees the IPCC’s recommendation to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C was achievable, but that it would be a “major challenge” necessitating action on all fronts, rather than just fossil fuels. He proposed a significant reforestation project to offset carbon emissions.

The CEO emphasised the need for reforestation alongside renewable energy solutions, saying: “You can get to 1.5C, but not by just by pulling the same levers a little bit harder, because they are being pulled roughly as fast and as hard as we are currently imagining.”

Van Beurden was keen to emphasise to consumers and shareholders that Shell had not “gone soft” on the use of oil and gas.

“Headlines that are true can be misleading,” he said, referring to recent news stories about Shell’s investment in renewable energy and electric car research. He later added: “We do plan to be at the forefront of change in our industry but we cannot and will not seek to dislocate ourselves from the people who buy our products… Shell’s core business is, and will be for the foreseeable future, very much in oil and gas, and particularly in natural gas.”

Reforestation is considered an essential aspect of the IPCC’s recommendations, which would help decelerate the rise in global temperature by reducing carbon dioxide levels, as well as providing essential habitats for displaced wildlife.

Shell spends between US$1 and US$2 billion dollars annually new energy solutions, less than 10 per cent of its total annual spending. Its annual revenue rose by 28 per cent in 2018, with a total shareholder return of 48 per cent over the last three years.

Van Beurden did not make any specific recommendations for how to implement his proposed reforestation project.


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