Shell’s Sustainability Strategy Perseveres Despite Lawsuit

Energy Digital magazine looks into Royal Dutch Shell’s response to the 2020 sustainability lawsuit, as the company continues to develop despite adversity

As the world moves towards a greener, cleaner future, a strong emphasis is imposed upon those companies who seemingly have the most significant effect on the environment - usually those involving fossil fuels. Companies like Royal Dutch Shell are making big changes to the way they operate, as well as the products they provide. Recently, the company’s Chief Executive has spoken about how Shell plans to ‘rise to the emissions challenge’.

In May 2021, environmentalists won a court case against the firm, as it came under fire for not meeting emissions targets soon enough. Milieudefensie, the Dutch branch of Friends of the Earth, argued for Shell’s obligation to meet international emissions standards of 1.5℃ to slow the rate of global warming, of which Shell’s lawyers fought back by saying how the company is taking “serious steps” to abolish the sale of fossil fuels. 

Ben van Beurden, Chief Executive of Shell, took to LinkedIn ensuring the company will meet the demands of the court order, “For Shell, this ruling does not mean a change, but rather an acceleration of our strategy," van Beurden wrote. 

Perseverance In Sustainability

There is no doubt that a company that historically sold fossil fuels would be under the spotlight when it comes to sustainability and climate change. Van Beurden feels as though the company was ‘singled out’ despite its intentions to meet requirements. "I still feel disappointed that Shell is being singled out by a ruling that I believe does not help reduce global CO2 emissions," says van Beurden.

The company will continue to work towards its target of net-zero emissions, as it puts short term reduction targets in place, including an energy transition strategy published in April this year. Shell plans to meet the net-zero requirement by 2050 - with the effects taking a significant turn from 2030 - and although it may still produce emissions, the company will offset any excess emissions through other means. 

"For a long time to come, we expect to continue providing energy in the form of oil and gas products both to meet customer demand and to maintain a financially strong company," van Beurden said in his post. "We need this financial strength to keep attracting investment in Shell. So we can deliver the energy the world needs, invest in lower-carbon energy, and support livelihoods in communities where we operate, as well as those of our customers, employees, and contractors."

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