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Ron Bousso: MAY 22, 2018

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – Top investors in Royal Dutch Shell on Tuesday stepped up pressure on the oil and gas giant to commit to hard targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to battle climate change.

Shell has set out “ambitions” to halve carbon emissions by 2050 and expand in renewables energy, which Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden said were ground breaking for the oil industry.

To view a graphic on Shell emissions, click: reut.rs/2Iya7Hf

“Nobody else comes close, it is seriously ambitious,” van Beurden said of Shell’s plan at the company’s annual general meeting in The Hague.

While praising Shell for its plan, a growing number of major shareholders has urged the Anglo-Dutch company to commit to hard targets to reduce carbon emissions from its oil and gas production, as well as from fuels it sells around the world.

“We call for this ambition to be translated into firm medium and short term targets, aligned with the Paris Agreement,” a group of 27 investors managing $7.9 trillion in assets said in a statement read at the AGM.

Shell’s board has urged shareholders to vote against a resolution brought forward for a vote at the AGM by activist group Follow This calling on Shell to set hard targets to reduce emissions in order to meet the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement goal to limit global warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius.

Van Beurden warned that doing so would hamper Shell’s efforts to adapt to the transition going on in energy.

To view a graphic on Shell carbon reduction goals, click: reut.rs/2JOGJgZ

“The reputation of our company is irrevocably linked to targets… Nobody can see how the energy transition will play out over this period,” van Beurden said.

The previous two climate resolutions tabled by Follow This in 2016 and 2017 won the support of 2.8 percent and 6.3 percent of the votes, respectively.

Last week, a group of 60 global investors urged companies to do more to reduce emissions and become more transparent about their plans.

Producing and burning of oil and gas account for around 50 percent of global carbon emissions.

To view a graphic on Shell vs. Exxon, click: reut.rs/2Ez93SB

Reporting by Ron Bousso; editing by Jason Neely

SOURCE

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Investors turn up heat on Shell over climate targets was first posted on May 22, 2018 at 1:41 pm.
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Shell urged to resist calls to fall into line with Paris climate accord http://royaldutchshellplc.com/2018/05/20/shell-urged-to-resist-calls-to-fall-into-line-with-paris-climate-accord/ http://royaldutchshellplc.com/2018/05/20/shell-urged-to-resist-calls-to-fall-into-line-with-paris-climate-accord/#respond Sun, 20 May 2018 20:36:30 +0000 http://royaldutchshellplc.com/?p=96838 Shell urged to resist calls to fall into line with Paris climate accord was first posted on May 20, 2018 at 9:36 pm.
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Britain’s largest shareholder advisory groups have called on investors in Royal Dutch Shell to reject growing demands for the oil giant to take full responsibility for its impact on the environment.

Shell faces a binding shareholder vote tomorrow to decide whether to adopt rigorous accountability standards to bring its operations into line with the Paris climate agreement. Glass Lewis and ISS have urged shareholders to reject the “unduly burdensome” and “problematic” proposal.

Environmental activists want wider greenhouse gas emissions standards that factor in emissions from Shell’s customers as they use the company’s petrol, fuels and chemicals. Glass Lewis said: “We do not believe that the company should be directed by shareholders to establish goals for activities outside of its own organisation that it has no ability to direct or control.”

The stand-off between the Shell board and green groups threatens to turn into a legal battle. Friends of the Earth has threatened to file a lawsuit in the Netherlands if Shell fails to commit to fall into line with the Paris accord at its AGM in The Hague this week.

Glass Lewis said it recognises that Shell faces significant risks as a result of increased regulation and public scrutiny on account of climate change.

“However, it also appears that the company has taken significant steps to manage those risks,” it said. “The company provides voluminous disclosure concerning the initiatives it has undertaken in order to mitigate climate change-related risks.”

These goals include reducing greenhouse gas emissions from its energy products – its own emissions as well as those of customers – by 20pc by 2035 and around 50pc by 2050.

Climate change concerns are also set to dominate BP’s AGM today after campaigners accused the company of trying to dodge shareholder activism by holding its meeting the day before Shell’s, and in Manchester.

It will be the first time in the group’s history that its AGM takes place outside London. Activists believe the move intentionally makes it harder to attend both the BP and Shell events.

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Shell Spreads Its Bets Around as It Prepares for a Greener Future http://royaldutchshellplc.com/2018/05/17/96817/ http://royaldutchshellplc.com/2018/05/17/96817/#respond Thu, 17 May 2018 19:17:21 +0000 http://royaldutchshellplc.com/?p=96817 Shell Spreads Its Bets Around as It Prepares for a Greener Future was first posted on May 17, 2018 at 8:17 pm.
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Shell closed a deal to buy First Utility, a British energy company that owns neither power plants nor gas pipelines, in March. CreditTom Jamieson for The New York Times

By Stanley Reed

COVENTRY, England — There seems to be little about the scrappy energy company in central England that would appeal to Royal Dutch Shell, the button-down oil giant. The little company, First Utility, is an upstart challenger. It offers friendly customer service, and low prices on electricity and natural gas. But it doesn’t own any power plants or gas pipelines; First Utility is a virtual energy company — the product of technological advancement and deregulation.

Its recent acquisition by Shell, a living dinosaur that continues to make its billions pumping fossil fuels out of the ground, illustrates one of the ways the energy companies that dominated the past are looking toward a future in which power is harnessed from the sun and the wind. It is a future that the petroleum industry is increasingly trying to embrace, leveraging its financial and logistical resources as it puzzles out ways to deal with the climate change problem its companies helped create.

Leading Shell’s efforts is Ben van Beurden. Since taking over as Shell’s chief executive in 2014, Mr. van Beurden has had to balance the company’s mainstay oil and gas business with the regulatory, shareholder and societal pressures — not to mention familial guilt — that will perhaps inevitably push Shell and its competitors to leave those businesses behind.

Mr. van Beurden recently recalled how his 9-year-old daughter had once come home from school in tears. “She had heard that the Earth was warming up and being destroyed by people like Shell,” he said.

Investors are concerned, too. Mr. van Beurden faced shareholder resolutions demanding that Shell take steps to mitigate climate change.

To insulate itself, Shell has begun allocating up to $2 billion per year — out of a capital budget of up to $30 billion — to electric power and other alternative energy. So far, it has bought First Utility and invested in operations as varied as a California solar energy business, an offshore wind farm in the Netherlands, a ride-sharing app start-up in London and even a company that provides charging outlets for electric vehicles.

First Utility is the kind of business that could thrive. It couples low prices with a warm approach. Sales agents, who work online and by phone, are trained to try to help customers through problems like the loss of a family member, rather than following a script.

“We try to make sure we have a human conversation,” said Mandeep Deu, First Utility’s customer service manager.

That formula has won over some 850,000 customers in Britain’s bruising energy market and has impressed Shell, which had been supplying the company with power and natural gas. Shell closed a deal to buy First Utility in March after it decided that the company could be an important part of the future energy business it wants to build.

“They give us a platform to grow from,” said Maarten Wetselaar, who heads Shell’s new energies business and its natural gas unit, which means “we will be able to grow much faster than if we were to start” from scratch.

It is something of an evolution for Shell, which — along with other oil companies — has long argued that it was helping mitigate climate change by investing tens of billions of dollars in cleaner-burning natural gas. Shell even completed the purchase of BG, a British energy company, for $54 billion in 2016 to bolster its position as a leader in liquefied natural gas.

But the public was not persuaded, Mr. van Beurden said. “People did not trust us,” he said. They thought that “we were secretly advocating for the prolongation” of oil and gas.

If energy companies want to regain that trust and prevent public skepticism from leading to government mandates, Mr. van Beurden said, they have to change their tune. Last fall, at a country retreat near his home in the Netherlands, he worked out a new plan with his executive team. Shell, he said, will start reducing the carbon footprint not only of its operations but, more important, of its products like gasoline and jet fuel, in line with the Paris climate agreement. As part of those efforts, Shell said its goal was a 50 percent reduction in the carbon dioxide produced by those products by 2050.

Shell does not plan to stop selling oil and gas anytime soon. So to reach its goals, it needs ways of delivering cleaner energy products that will dilute the overall emissions from those fossil fuels. For a company as sprawling as Shell, which is Europe’s largest company, that can take many forms: having electric charging points and hydrogen, a clean fuel, available at its filling stations, and generating large amounts of green power from wind and solar installations to sell to industrial customers.

Still, some environmentalists and investors are skeptical about Shell’s intentions, noting that the $2 billion a year that it proposes to invest in new energies is still relatively small.

Mark van Baal, founder of Follow This, a Dutch shareholder activist group, said that accepting responsibility for the emissions of its products was “an industry-leading move” by Shell. But he added that the plan that Mr. van Beurden had outlined, which would allow oil and gas production to grow, was “not enough” given the dangers of global warming.

For Shell’s annual meeting on May 22, Follow This has proposed a resolution asking the company to set specific targets for meeting the Paris goals on climate change. Aegon, a large Dutch insurer, and Actiam, a fund manager, have already said they would support the resolution. Last year, a similar Follow This proposal won a small but notable 6 percent of the vote.

On April 16, Shell directors advised shareholders to reject the proposal, saying that it might “tie the hands” of management to a rigid standard and that Shell’s efforts in the area were already “more progressive” than what Follow This was advocating.

Critics, though, continue to say Shell is overly wedded to fossil fuels.

“At the moment, the scale between their oil and gas business and their alternative energy business is still pretty disproportionate,” said Charlie Kronick, a senior adviser for Greenpeace in Britain. “You can’t really have it both ways.”

But change is afoot at Shell.

The company is placing bets on a number of new businesses and technologies. Last year, for example, it acquired NewMotion, a Dutch supplier of charging outlets for electric vehicles. In an interview, the company’s chief executive, Sytse Zuidema, said having Shell behind his firm, which has about 100 employees, would give it credibility with potential partners and customers like carmakers and corporate fleet owners.

“The ownership by Shell means we are taken seriously going forward,” he said. “Elephants like to dance with elephants.”

There is an important grain of truth to that idea, analysts said. While wind and solar are fast-growing sectors, the traditional powers in energy have the capital, scale and customers to rapidly ramp up development.

“There is no ideology here,” said Damien Sauer, a partner at Greentech Capital, which brokers clean energy deals. “I believe oil and gas companies have a role to play here because they can bring customer access and they can bring knowledge of how to develop very complex projects.”

It is a change that is playing out across the once-staid power industry.

Other major European oil companies are also experimenting with renewable energy and electricity. BP recently said it would pay $200 million for a stake in a solar-power developer called Lightsource. Total, the French oil company, recently bought Direct Energie, a small power company with customers in France and Belgium, to add to a portfolio that includes a battery maker called Saft.

These companies are making moves because they realize that clean energy is likely to grow faster than their fossil fuel businesses. Shell wants to test whether its well-known brand and its experience operating projects at a large scale can bring substantial returns to what has been a low-profit business, but one with steady returns and a promising future.

“We are confident enough that we want to start putting real money at work here,” Mr. van Beurden said.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: An Oil Dinosaur Invests in a Friendlier Face
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Shell Spreads Its Bets Around as It Prepares for a Greener Future was first posted on May 17, 2018 at 8:17 pm.
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Oil Companies Ask Judge to Kill NYC’s Global Warming Lawsuit http://royaldutchshellplc.com/2018/05/05/oil-companies-ask-judge-to-kill-nycs-global-warming-lawsuit/ Sat, 05 May 2018 10:22:15 +0000 http://royaldutchshellplc.com/?p=96697 Oil Companies Ask Judge to Kill NYC’s Global Warming Lawsuit was first posted on May 5, 2018 at 11:22 am.
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By Bob Van Voris: 4 May 2018, 23:09 BST Updated on 5 May 2018, 02:09 BST

♦Case affects global economy, national security, companies say

♦New York argues oil companies denied climate change science

This lawsuit is based upon the fundamental principle that a corporation that makes a product causing severe harm when used exactly as intended should shoulder the costs of abating that harm. Defendants here produced, marketed, and sold massive quantities of fossil fuels—primarily oil and natural gas—despite knowing that the combustion and use of fossil fuels emit greenhouse gases (“GHG pollution” or “GHGs”), primarily carbon dioxide (“CO2”). Defendants have also known for decades that GHG pollution accumulates and remains in the atmosphere for up to hundreds of years, where it traps heat, a process commonly referred to as “climate change” or “global warming,” and that this process would cause grave harm.

Five of the world’s biggest oil companies asked a judge to throw out New York City’s lawsuit seeking to hold them responsible for costs related to the environmental changes caused by their products. BP Plc, Chevron Corp.ConocoPhillipsExxon Mobil Corp., and Royal Dutch Shell Plc argued that the court lacks the authority to resolve broad policy questions with “profound implications for the global economy, international relations and America’s national security.” FULL ARTICLE

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Investors press Shell for tougher carbon emissions cuts http://royaldutchshellplc.com/2018/05/05/96693/ Sat, 05 May 2018 10:16:45 +0000 http://royaldutchshellplc.com/?p=96693 Investors press Shell for tougher carbon emissions cuts was first posted on May 5, 2018 at 11:16 am.
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Church of England funds back AGM resolution calling for more aggressive targets

 and  in London: 4 May 2018

Investors with £28bn of assets under management, including pension funds of the Church of England and the UK Environment Agency, have declared support for a shareholder resolution that would force Royal Dutch Shell to adopt tougher targets for reducing carbon emissions. Shell’s board has urged shareholders to reject the resolution… FULL FT ARTICLE

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