Shell chief leads chorus of European oil companies in call for carbon pricing

Ben van Beurden
Ben van Beurden

Six major oil and gas companies – including Shell and BP – have called on national governments around the world and the United Nations Climate Change Panel to introduce carbon pricing systems and create clear, stable, ambitious policy frameworks that could eventually connect national systems.

Along with these two UK oil majors, the BG Group, Eni, Statoil and Total say this would reduce uncertainty and encourage the most cost effective ways of reducing carbon emissions overall.

It is interesting to note that there are no American oil companies included in this statement (see below)

The six companies set out their position in a joint letter from their chief executives to the UNFCCC Executive Secretary and the President of the COP21 – ahead of the UN’s COP21 climate meetings in Paris this December.

The presence of Shell chief executive  Ben van Beurden is significant in light of a keynote speech he made earlier this year,** where he said: “For a sustainable energy future, we need a more balanced debate. The fossil fuels out, renewables in’ mantra is – too often – what it boils down to. Yet in my view, that’s simply naïve. Provoking a sudden death of fossil fuels isn’t a plausible plan.

“In the past we thought it was better to keep a low profile on the issue. I understand that tactic, but in the end it’s not a good tactic. “The debate about the future of energy is not always very balanced, partly because we keep such a low profile and there’s so little dialogue within our sector.

“We have to make sure that our voice is heard by members of government, by civil society and the general public. Our sector needs to enter into the public debate alongside other credible parties”

** Scottish Energy News (13 Feb 2015)

In their joint letter, the oil chiefs said:

“Climate change is a critical challenge for our world. As major companies from the oil & gas sector, we recognise both the importance of the climate challenge and the importance of energy to human life and well-being.

“We acknowledge that the current trend of greenhouse gas emissions is in excess of what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says is needed to limit the temperature rise to no more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

The challenge is how to meet greater energy demand with less CO2. We stand ready to play our part.

“Our companies are already taking a number of actions to help limit emissions, such as growing the share of gas in our production, making energy efficiency improvements in our operations and products, providing renewable energy, investing in carbon capture and storage, and exploring new low-carbon technologies and business models.

“These actions are a key part of our mission to provide the greatest number of people with access to sustainable and secure energy.

“But for us to do more, we need governments across the world to provide us with clear, stable, long-term, ambitious policy frameworks. This would reduce uncertainty and help stimulate investments in the right low carbon technologies and the right resources at the right pace.

We believe that a price on carbon should be a key element of these frameworks.

“Pricing carbon obviously adds a cost to our production and our products – but carbon pricing policy frameworks will contribute to provide our businesses and their many stakeholders with a clear roadmap for future investment, a level playing field for all energy sources across geographies and a clear role in securing a more sustainable future.”

Signed by

  • Helge Lund, BG Group
  • Bob Dudley, BP
  • Claudio Descalzi, Eni S.p.A.
  • Ben van Beurden, Shell
  • Eldar Sætre, Statoil
  • Patrick Pouyanné, Total

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