Royal Dutch Shell PLC will invest $1 billion/year on its New Energies division by the end of the decade as part of a global energy transition often misrepresented as a revolution, according to the company’s chief executive officer.
“In truth, different countries and different sectors will advance at different speeds,” Ben Van Beurden told the World Petroleum Congress in Istanbul. “In truth, we are not talking about a moment in time but of change that will take place over generations.”
Adapting to climate change, he said, a European country must “renew and evolve its infrastructure to be much cleaner and achieve great efficiencies—to bring down the amount of energy used per capita and to cut the emissions associated with that consumption.”
In contrast, a different country starting with minimal infrastructure, limited financial resources, and rapid population growth “will have an entirely different task,” he said.
“So there is not one, single energy transition under way but many, all running alongside each other,” Van Beurden said. “These are happening right now, but they will take many decades to play out.”
The Shell chief said markets and competition should find the many solutions required to address the many challenges of meeting energy needs while lowering emissions of greenhouse gases.
“Some of that will involve well-targeted regulation to mandate things such as efficiency improvements,” he said. “Part of it will mean consumer incentives to pull people into new habits and behaviors.
“Other initiatives, like that of the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, can play their part.” Shell, he said, had joined that initiative 2 weeks earlier.
Van Beurden also supported government-led carbon-pricing mechanisms, which he said are needed for technologies such as carbon capture and storage.
“Until there is a market for carbon,” he said, “the economic justification for such facilities is hard to make.”