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Shell Study: climate neutral in 2070 if everything goes well

Printed below is an English translation of an article published today by the Dutch Financial Times, Financieele Dagblad.

Shell Study: climate neutral in 2070 if everything goes well

From our editor • Entrepreneurship

Shell itself calls it ‘ambitious’. Only with a ‘complex combination of mutually reinforcing factors’, supported by society, markets and governments, can the world be climate neutral by 2070. That presents the oil and gas company in its latest scenario study. Name: Sky.

Everywhere has been taken into account. Governments are going to put a price on CO₂ rights (sometime next decade), intercontinental flights on hydrogen (after 2040) and deforestation will come to an end (after 2060). Consequence: in just over fifty years the world will no longer emit CO₂.

Not enough

Sky is the sequel to Mountains and Oceans, the scenarios that the company published five years ago. Mountains stood for a world with moderate economic growth and energy-efficient cities. Oceans meant greater prosperity but still an important role for coal in the energy supply.

Conclusion of Sky: the necessary change to become climate-neutral is so great that it is not enough to continue on the current path ‘with limited CO₂ tax and support for renewable energy’. However, there is a need for the deployment of ‘disruptive new technologies on a large scale’. In addition, there are ‘infinitely many possible paths’ to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases in the coming decades.

After 2030

Energy demand is rising, coal is difficult to phase out and renewable energy is not yet large enough to serve as compensation for fossil fuels such as oil: there are plenty of ‘challenges’ described in Sky. In the short term, there is little to expect in the energy system. The difference must be made after 2030, according to Shell. With electric cars, with solar and wind energy, but above all with policy.

Nevertheless, in fifty years oil production will still remain at around 50 million to 60 million barrels per day. ‘Liquid hydrocarbons’ remain important in shipping and gas will be the last fossil fuel to peak, but after 2040, gas consumption will also fall. There is more solar energy, batteries are getting better, CO₂ emissions are becoming more and more expensive. By 2055, gas is to generate energy, at the level of 2015.


Thus the Sky scenario. Shell did give the vista a leaflet. They are not policy proposals. No business plans and no investment advice. But Sky includes “potential paths” that “could take the world”.

Or, in Shell terms, it is a challenging process for society, but ‘technically possible’.

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