Shell CEO: Carbon Reduction Targets Are ‘Foolhardy’

REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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The CEO of Royal Dutch Shell is not a fan of setting carbon emission targets, saying such standards open his company up to lawsuits.

Ben van Beurden is a proponent of oil and gas companies making strides to reduce their carbon footprint. He has led an ambitious effort to halve Shell’s emissions by 2050 and he openly supports carbon pricing as a means to mitigate pollution. However, the Dutch business leader opposes the establishment of binding emission standards.

“It would be somewhat foolhardy to put ourselves in a legal bind by saying these are the targets we will adopt,” van Beurden stated during a company event, according to Reuters. “Before we put ourselves at the mercy of a legal challenge, I want to make sure we are doing the right thing first.”

While he has resisted calls from environmentalists and other activists to establish emission targets, van Beurden has been a major supporter of other “green” efforts, such as meeting the goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement and enacting carbon taxes — fees levied on companies according to the amount of CO2 they release into the atmosphere.

Among the world’s biggest oil and gas firms, Shell invests the most on low-carbon technology. Out of a total spending budget of around $25 million,  Shell spends around $2 billion annually on clean fuels and renewables. (RELATED: Rhode Island Joins AG Crusade To Blame Oil Companies For Climate Change)

The Netherlands-based company has been subjected to numerous lawsuits by environmental activists over the years. More recently, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin announced on Monday that he was initiating a lawsuit against Shell and other fossil fuel companies for their alleged contributions to climate change and its effect on coastal infrastructure.

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