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Sustainability and our business strategy

Our role in sustainability is to help meet current energy needs in a responsible way. We do this by operating in line with international standards, our own stringent frameworks and best practice. We also participate in shaping a path towards a lower-carbon energy future.

Our core values of honesty, integrity and respect for people are the foundation of our Shell General Business Principles and have been applied across our business operations for many decades. These principles require us to comply with strict health, safety, security, environmental and social guidelines in all of our projects. Our standards evolve from experience as well as changing expectations. For example, in the late 1990s we added a commitment within our Business Principles to contribute to sustainable development.

When we invest in energy projects we seek to balance the short- and long-term interests of our business – the energy business requires long-term investments and there are many countries where we have operated for decades. We seek to balance a broad range of risks in our portfolio choices to consider the economic, social and environmental risks as well as political and technical. Our investment decisions are taken after we assess a range of risks that includes financial, environmental and our potential impact on the neighbouring communities.

Project delays can occur if our potential impacts on the environment or communities are not fully considered as part of our planning. Our commitment to safety, the environment and to communities plays a crucial role in how we think, plan, design and operate projects. For example, we are working to reduce our environmental impact in areas such as water use. (See “Water”).

In the coming decades, we believe that more and lower-carbon energy will be required to meet the needs of a growing population. Natural gas, the lowest-carbon fossil fuel, accounted for over half of our energy production in 2014. Our commitment to technology and innovation continues to be at the core of our strategy. Since 2009, we have invested more than $1 billion each year in technology research and development which is more than any other international oil and gas company. (See “Future technologies”). During that time period around $1 billion of our research and development investment has been in lower-carbon technologies.