Shell’s chief executive has staged a defiant performance at the company’s annual shareholders meeting, claiming calls to curb new oil developments were “unrealistic” and saying there would always be opponents to plans to drill in the Arctic.
Ben van Beurden insisted Shell is sensitive towards global warming and the environment – telling shareholders “your company was the first to acknowledge the link between CO2 emissions and climate change”.
He also said the scale of the safety precautions Shell is taking as part of its plan to drill for oil in the Arctic is “unprecedented” in the history of the oil industry.
But Mr van Beurden accompanied this greener, sympathetic side with a much harder-edged analysis of real-world demands, at the AGM in the Hague, in the Netherlands. He took aim at the “carbon bubble” – the idea that much of the world’s fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground if the world is to avoid catastrophic climate change, which is the basis of the growing calls for investors to divest fossil fuel shareholdings.
“That particular theory also ignores the reality of the industry. As a matter of fact, it risks distracting from the real issues around the energy transition needs,” said Mr van Beurden, “We will need sustained and substantial investment to just meet the demand to fuel economic growth, especially, of course, in the developing world,” he added.
Mr van Beurden also questioned the logic of opponents to Arctic development. He said some campaigners wrongly assume Arctic drilling contributes more to climate change than production in other regions, when in fact its carbon footprint is relatively low.
“I’ve come to accept that people who have that logic – which I respect and understand – no amount of arguing, no amount of assurance, no amount of logic for that matter, will change the argument. You just have to respect that we have different opinions.”
(Source: The Independent)