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Climate litigation and activism

Shell’s energy transition strategy to accelerate our transformation into a low- and zero-carbon energy business is strongly supported by our shareholders. We have set climate targets that we believe are aligned with the more ambitious goal of the UN Paris Agreement on climate change: to limit the increase in the global average temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Still, a ruling by the District Court of The Hague, in the Netherlands, and some activists, say that Shell’s strategy should shift away from oil and gas even faster.

We agree there is an urgent need to change the world’s energy system, and that coordinated changes in energy supply are necessary. But achieving a net-zero emissions energy system requires changes in both energy supply and demand. If, for example, Shell decided to stop selling petrol to accelerate the energy transition, it would not mean that people would buy less petrol. Customers would buy it from other companies and total demand for fossil fuels would not change – it would only shrink Shell’s customer base. 

This would prevent us from delivering the energy the world needs today. It would also harm our work with customers to decarbonise different sectors, limit our effectiveness in playing a leading role in the energy transition in the years to come, and affect our financial strength and ability to generate value for shareholders today and in the future.

Shell is also being asked to reduce emissions further and faster than even the most aggressive energy scenarios and policy pathways for the sectors in which we operate. Shell alone cannot directly influence the energy choices made by our customers. It is for governments to determine the right trade-offs for society and put in place the policies that bring about fundamental changes in the way society consumes energy, for example by mandating the sale of cars that run on low-carbon energy.

Shell is determined to play its part in helping to change the world’s energy system. We are making progress in implementing our energy transition strategy. And we believe this strategy is the best for society, our customers and our shareholders.

Read more about why Shell has appealed the District Court ruling (in Dutch and English): Waarom Shell in hoger beroep gaat | Shell Nederland