A discussion document outlining an approach to achieving net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases has been published by oil giant Shell – but the implication of the booklet is that the world will miss its target of limiting global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
Shell believes that economic growth coupled with near net-zero emissions is “challenging” but achievable and the new report paints a picture of continued technological advances and a positive framework of international co-operation. However, the content implies that net-zero emissions will not be met until the end of this century and that global temperatures will rise by 2.5°C above pre-industrial levels as a result.
The booklet, entitled “A Better Life With A Healthy Planet – Pathways To Net- Zero Emissions” builds on the work done by Shell’s in-house scenario planning team which studied the problem in detail during 2013.
Shell quotes Jeremy Bentham, the Head of Shell Scenarios, as saying: “We’ve taken the most optimistic features of our 2013 scenarios. We’ve then combined them with individually plausible further shifts in policy, technology deployment, circumstances, and events that might move the world onto a new, even lower-emission trajectory, resulting in net-zero emissions on a timescale consistent with global aspirations.”
Shell has two scenarios that envisage getting to net-zero emissions by the end of this century and it cites research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that says achieving net global emissions by 2100 is consistent with 2.5°C of warming. The report says that “2°C would require net-zero emissions by around 2070” but neither of its two scenarios – called Mountains and Oceans (see the graphic) – envisage that outcome.
The report states: “The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has assessed these pathways using MIT climate models and concluded they would result in temperature increases by 2100 of approximately 2.4°C (for Mountains) and 2.7°C (for Oceans), although within a wide uncertainty band, as with all climate projections”.
The report quotes Shell chief executive officer Ben van Beurden as saying: “We find the goal of a better life with a healthy planet to be an inspiring ambition. But navigating the necessary transitions will require extraordinary and unprecedented coordination, collaboration and leadership across all sectors of society. We hope this booklet will provide helpful insights for this challenging journey”.