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Regardless of their heavily cautioned net-zero goals, the test of an oil company’s climate commitment is whether — and how quickly — it plans to cut production.
Shell, for its part, says its production peaked in 2019 and is targeting reductions of 1-2% year-on-year. This still means some frontier development to supplement declining production from existing wells – contrary to the International Energy Agency’s advice that no new oil is compatible with a 1.5 future. °C.
Yet he abandoned the industry’s commitment to eternal growth. And if he takes last year’s historic Dutch court decision seriously, Shell will have to show more restraint.
It helps explain why the oil major turned around so quickly when activists targeted its involvement in developing the Cambo oil field last year.
And it bodes well for indigenous groups defending the sanctity of South Africa’s rugged coastline from oil exploration. While Shell is contesting the lawsuit, it takes less resistance than before to tip the scales in favor of leaving the oil in the ground.
The flip side is that the oil industry could end up concentrating in places where civil society, environmental and social protections are weaker. Strengthening democratic institutions is a climate strategy.
This week’s stories