The fact that oil and gas consumption at the point of end use can be environmentally damaging is frankly not Shell’s concern

There is some ill-informed PR puffery in The Times today about Shell’s “Zero emissions by 2050 “target” .

Shell, and BP for that matter, plays an essential part in the global economy’s demand for oil and gas. But let’s be crystal clear about this. Oil companies do not create demand, only supply it. If we want to reduce our dependence on hydrocarbons look to the oil companies’ customers not to the companies themselves.

As some sectors, like power generation, switch from (mainly) gas to renewables Shell may choose to try and compensate for lost sales revenues by creating renewables businesses of their own. There’s plenty of huff and puff about this. I’m sceptical. Shell has an abysmal record of failed diversification away from their core hydrocarbon business. There is little or no collective corporate memory about Wind or Solar Power in Shell and frankly little genuine expertise or interest.

Providing recharging points at Shell petrol stations, also mentioned in The Times article, does not make Shell a renewables supplier any more than providing a shop made them a grocery retailer. It’s simply a response to change and what customers will want. No big deal.

Shell has long pursued a policy of reducing energy consumption and pollution in its own activities like production, refining and distribution. But the fact that oil and gas consumption at the point of end use can be environmentally damaging is frankly not the corporation’s concern. Nor should it be.

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