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Shell’s New Strategy: ‘Net Zero Schmet Zero,’ Because Who Needs the Planet When You’ve Got Profits?

 

As green activists and the Church of England Pensions Board wag their fingers in disapproval, Shell seems ready to sprint in the opposite direction of net zero, all the while shouting, “Catch us if you can!” Because in the end, who needs a habitable planet when you’ve got fat dividends, right?

Posted by John Donovan: 20 March 2024

In an almost admirable display of environmental indifference, Shell Plc is flirting with the idea of putting the brakes on its already glacial pace of carbon emissions cuts. This bombshell, which is about as surprising as finding out politicians lie, comes straight from the horse’s mouth—or rather, people whispering secrets because this info is hotter than the planet we’re roasting.

Set your calendars for Thursday, folks, because Shell is about to drop its latest masterpiece in corporate doublespeak, disguised as an update to its long-term clean energy and emissions plan. The grand architect behind this slow-motion environmental train wreck? None other than CEO Wael Sawan, who seems to believe the best way to warm shareholders’ hearts (and the Earth, coincidentally) is by pumping more money into oil and gas.

Under the previous regime of CEO Ben “Net Zero Hero” van Beurden, Shell pinky-promised to become a net-zero company by the magical year of 2050. Their master plan involved cutting net carbon intensity by 20% by 2030, 45% by 2035, and reaching net zero when we’re all likely fighting water wars or living on Mars.

But wait, there’s more! The plot to potentially backtrack on these ambitious goals was known internally as Project Vega, which sounds less like a plan for emissions reduction and more like a Vegas magician’s final act before disappearing in a cloud of CO2.

“We look forward to publishing our Energy Transition Strategy report on 14 March,” said a Shell spokesperson with what we can only assume was a straight face. They promised it would detail plans to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, which is corporate for “cross your fingers and hope for the best.”

Not to be outdone by its peer BP, which last year decided it wasn’t pumping nearly enough oil and gas, Shell seems poised to join the fossil fuel fiesta. After all, BP’s shares soared more than 8% after announcing its plan to befriend carbon emissions, inspiring Shell to potentially say, “Hold my beer.”

And let’s not forget the always aspirational 2050 net zero target. Shell has always seen it more as a distant dream, like owning a flying car or having affordable healthcare. The company’s public documents basically say, “2035? 2050? Lol, we plan for the next 10 years, tops.”

Sawan, since taking the helm, has made it clear his top priority is making it rain for Shell investors, even if it means making it acid rain for the rest of us. With shareholder payouts up, jobs cut, and a renewed commitment to fossil fuels, it’s clear that Shell is all in on betting against the planet.

As green activists and the Church of England Pensions Board wag their fingers in disapproval, Shell seems ready to sprint in the opposite direction of net zero, all the while shouting, “Catch us if you can!” Because in the end, who needs a habitable planet when you’ve got fat dividends, right?

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