Oil giant Shell will follow only part of a Dutch court order as it promised to slash two types of emissions by the end of the decade.
The company said it would cut in half greenhouse gas emissions produced at its oil and gas sites as well as off-site emissions from the energy it uses.
But the new pledge, which is a 50% reduction compared to 2016 emissions, will not touch around 90% of Shell’s emissions, those produced when customers burn its fuel.
The company was ordered by a Dutch court in May to slash the so-called Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions by 45% by 2030.
But it is appealing the Scope 3 part of the ruling, the emissions that come from its customers.
“It is … an important step as we rise to meet the challenge of the Dutch court’s ruling for our Scope 1 and 2 emissions, which Shell expects to meet by 2030,” the company said.
This quarter our results show we are delivering on our strategy. We also set a new target to halve scope 1 and 2 absolute emissions, complementing our existing climate goals.
— Shell (@Shell) October 28, 2021
It added: “Our 2022 business plan will reflect this new target, which we are committed to delivering regardless of whether we win or lose our appeal against the ruling.”
Shell has a separate target to get to net zero Scope 3 emissions by 2050.
The business also said it will stop routine gas flaring by 2025, five years ahead of its previous target.
When extracting oil from the ground producers often also get unwanted gas in their pipes. Sometimes this is used for energy, but often it does not make financial sense to do so and the gas is simply burnt on site.
The World Bank estimates that enough gas to power all of sub-Saharan Africa is wasted this way each year.
Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden said: “Today, we also set a new 2030 target to halve the absolute emissions from our operations, compared to 2016 levels on a net basis.
“Altogether, this is clear evidence of how we are accelerating our Powering Progress strategy, purposefully and profitably.”
Stuart Lamont, investment manager at Brewin Dolphin, said: “As ever, the tricky balance Shell needs to strike is remaining an attractive investment prospect as it makes the transition towards net zero, which it is currently managing well with a progressive dividend and share buyback programme.
“However, any detrimental change to the oil price could be a significant challenge in that regard.”
Separately, the oil giant announced on Thursday that it made a 988 million US dollar (£719 million) loss in the third quarter of the year.
The figure, which is measured on a current cost of supply basis and attributable to shareholders, was a swing from a 177 million dollar (£129 million) profit a year earlier.
“This quarter we’ve generated record cash flow, maintained capital discipline and announced our intention to distribute 7 billion dollars (£5.1 billion) to our shareholders from the sale of our Permian assets,” Mr van Beurden said.