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Delivering our climate targets

Powering progress

Working with our customers and across sectors to accelerate the transition to net-zero emissions.

  • Our climate target is to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, in step with society's progress in achieving the goal of the UN Paris Agreement on climate change.
  • We have set targets to reduce the carbon intensity (Net Carbon Footprint) of the energy products we sell. This includes short-term targets of 3-4% by 2022, 6-8% by 2023 and 9-12% by 2024 (compared with 2016). It also includes medium- and long-term targets of 20% by 2030, 45% by 2035, and 100% by 2050 (compared with 2016), in step with society.
  • In October 2021, we announced an absolute emissions reduction target of 50% by 2030, compared with 2016 levels on a net basis. This new target covers all Scope 1 and 2 emissions under Shell’s operational control and complements our existing carbon-intensity targets.

Net carbon intensity

Shell’s net carbon intensity (NCI) provides an annual measure of the life-cycle emissions intensity of the portfolio of energy products sold. It is the average intensity, weighted by sales volume, of the energy products sold by Shell. It is tracked, measured and reported using the Net Carbon Footprint (NCF) methodology. 

We express our net carbon intensity as the grams of CO2 equivalent per megajoule (gCO2e/MJ) produced for each unit of energy delivered to, and used by, a consumer.

Shell’s net carbon intensity in 2021 was 77 gCO2e/MJ. Although this is a 2.7% increase from the previous year, it represents a 2.5% reduction from the 2016 reference year, which means that we achieved our first short-term target of a 2-3% reduction in NCI by the end of 2021. 

The increase in Shell’s net carbon intensity in 2021 is largely due to the introduction of an improved approach for the estimation of the emissions intensity of power sold by Shell. The new approach is based on categorising power sales as certified renewable; own generation or power purchase agreement; or power purchased from the grid. Intensities are then assigned to each power sales category allowing a better estimation of the overall intensity of power sold by Shell. 

We have received third-party limited assurance on our carbon intensity, measured and reported using the Net Carbon Footprint methodology, for the period 2016 to 2021. Limited assurance means nothing has come to the auditor’s attention that would indicate that the greenhouse gas data and information as presented in the Greenhouse Gas Statement were not materially correct.

Read more about our Net Carbon Footprint methodology at

Net carbon intensity [A] [B]


[A] The NCI calculation uses Shell’s energy product sales volume data, as disclosed in the Annual Report and Sustainability Report. This excludes certain contracts held for trading purposes and reported net rather than gross. Business-specific methodologies to net volumes have been applied in oil products and pipeline gas and power. Paper trades that do not result in physical product delivery are excluded. Retail sales volumes from markets where Shell operates under trademark licensing agreements are also excluded from the scope of Shell’s carbon intensity metric.
[B] Acquisitions and divestments are included in the actual performance tracking with the target and reference year unchanged. Note that acquisitions and divestments could have a material impact on meeting the targets.

Absolute emissions reduction performance

In 2021, our total combined Scope 1 and 2 absolute greenhouse gas emissions (from assets and activities under our operational control) were 68 million tonnes on a CO₂ equivalent basis, a 4% reduction compared with 2020, and an 18% reduction compared with 2016, the base year. Our Scope 3 emissions from energy products included in our net carbon intensity were 1,299 million tonnes CO₂e.

Scope 1 and 2 emissions under operational control

million tonnes CO2e

020406080100202120202019201820172016Scope 1 emissions - Direct GHG emissions [A] [B] [C]Scope 2 emissions - market-based method [D] [E]abab7211731271117010638608
[A] Greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) comprise carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulphur hexafluoride and nitrogen trifluoride. The data are calculated using locally regulated methods where they exist. Where there is no locally regulated method, the data are calculated using the 2009 API Compendium, which is the recognised industry standard under the GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard. There are inherent limitations to the accuracy of such data. Oil and gas industry guidelines (IPIECA/API/IOGP) indicate that several sources of uncertainty can contribute to the overall uncertainty of a corporate emissions inventory. We have estimated the overall uncertainty for our direct GHG emissions to be around 4% for 2021.
[B] GHG emissions are calculated using Global Warming Potential factors from the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report. 
[C] GHG emissions in this chart do not include carbon credits.
[D] We have restated our 2020 Scope 2 emissions from 9 to 8 million tonnes CO2e following a correction of an efficiency factor for steam at one of our assets and a revision to how internal energy transfers of steam and electricity were accounted for at several of our assets to remove double-counting between Scopes 1 and 2.
[E] We have estimated the overall uncertainty for our Scope 2 emissions to be around 6% for 2021.
carbon dioxide
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Net Carbon Footprint
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net carbon intensity
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United Nations
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a unit of energy equal to one million joules
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