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article imageShell CEO urges industry to switch to cleaner energy sources

By Karen Graham     Mar 10, 2017 in Environment
Houston - Shell CEO Ben van Beurden, speaking at the 2017 CERAWeek energy conference in Houston, Texas on Thursday, said the oil and gas industry risks losing public support if progress is not made in the transition to cleaner energy.
During his keynote address, van Beurden announced that Royal Dutch Shell will be shifting its business model in the next several decades to a mix of renewables and traditional fossil fuels, according to World Oil.
The world's second largest publicly-traded oil company plans on increasing its investment in renewable energy to $1.0 billion a year by the end of this decade, even though it's only a small part of the company's overall $25 billion in annual spending. Van Beurden pointed out the shift focuses on producing less carbon dioxide but doesn't focus on a specific industry.
The Shell CEO also stressed the need for the federal government to initiate a carbon tax because it is essential to phasing out coal and oil as polluting sources. This is why Shell is embracing a switch from oil to natural gas as the most inexpensive way to create a cleaner footprint.
"If we're not very careful, with all the good intentions and advocacy that we have, we may, as a sector and society, not make the progress that is needed," van Beurden said, according to Reuters. The "biggest challenge" will be maintaining public acceptance of the industry.
"I do think trust has been eroded to the point that it is becoming a serious issue for our long-term future," he continued. "If we are not careful, broader public support for the sector will wane."
Shell has already made good on the CEO's intentions for the multinational company. The Guardian is reporting that Royal Dutch Shell has agreed to sell most of its oilsands assets valued at $8.5 billion.
Royal Dutch Shell
Under the deal, Shell will sell its existing and undeveloped Canadian oil sands prospect to Canadian Natural Resources, as well as cut its share in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project (AOSP) to 10 percent, down from 60 percent.
It may not be too surprising that the CEOs of other oil companies attending CERAWeek are also committed to reducing greenhouse gasses and fighting climate change in order to stay in business.
"This is going to require common sense at scale for the world to recognize that we are going to need all forms of energy," BP CEO Bob Dudley said. "You can't just turn off oil or coal."
Dudley is the chair of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative. The 10 companies in this group are spending $1 billion to develop ways to reduce carbon dioxide and methane emissions.
One holdout from the initiative is ExxonMobil, but the new CEO, Darren Woods did call on government and industry leaders to recognize climate change and embrace a carbon tax to fight carbon emissions.
"A policy fostering transparent, uniform carbon prices that will allow market forces to drive tech solutions, minimize initiative burdens and promote global participation can be effective," he said. "Policies that form subsidies, mandates and trade barriers only hinder progress."
The CERAWeek meeting actually ends with a positive note, not only for the energy industry, but for the environment. The Houston Chronicle says, if only the Trump administration and the GOP-majority Congress will pay attention to what the oil industry wants - Pass a carbon tax, set some sensible regulations and embrace the Paris Climate Pact, we will all be better off.
More about Royal dutch shell, ceraweek, public support, Renewables, Climate change
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