Shell announced Thursday that it intends to halve its absolute emissions from its operations by 2030 and eliminate 'routine flaring' by 2025.
The Anglo-Dutch supermajor made the announcement in conjunction with its third quarter earnings update. The company said it would use its 2016 emissions levels as the basis for its reduction objectives.
“These commitments will help us achieve our carbon intensity targets and deliver against Shell’s ambition to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050,” the company said.
Shell did not specifically define what constitutes "routine flaring" or provide an estimated amount of emissions eliminated through its action.
Despite the pledges announced Thursday, Shell's chief executive said the company will be absent when the United Nations' COP26 climate talks begin in Glasgow in the coming days, after being told it would not be welcome.
"We are not represented," Ben van Beurden told journalists during a call to discuss the company's third-quarter results on Thursday. "We were told that we were not welcome, so we will not be there. That's probably all there is to it."
Shell is a signatory to the Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 initiative developed by the World Bank, and the company said it intends to meet those goals five years ahead of the deadline. The oil and gas giant said its Australian affiliate QGC Pty Limited upstream coal-seam gas facilities reduced flaring by approximately 65% in 2020 compared to 2019, and its Pearl gas-to-liquids plant in Qatar reduced emissions by more than 15% over the same period.
The company also touted its flaring reductions in its US Permian basin operation, an asset it has agreed to sell to ConocoPhillips for $9.5 billion. That deal is scheduled to close in the fourth quarter.
“In September 2019, Shell completed flowback on eight Permian wells with no associated flaring, a first-time achievement,” the company said. “The continued reduction in flaring has positively impacted Permian’s GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions with 40% reduction in total GHG emissions and a 20% reduction in methane emissions, compared to the same period in 2018.”
Shell’s announcement to end routine flaring drew a mixed response from environmental groups, who want to see the supermajor end all flaring as quickly as possible.
“Any credible net-zero pledge should include urgent measures to stamp out all sources of flaring, which erode shareholder value and exacerbate methane pollution," said Ben Ratner, associate vice president of the Environmental Defense Fund. "Rapidly reducing methane emissions and flaring is a cost-effective and crucial priority to avoid the worst effects of climate change.”