As part of the Gastech Virtual Summit opening ceremony Maarten Wetselaar, Integrated Gas & New Energies Director and Member of the Executive Committee from Shell spoke to CNBC’s Anchor Steve Sedgwick.
Wetselaar stated that a lot is uncertain in the world since the arrival of COVID-19 but companies need to react.
“One thing does remain constant which is the need to tackle climate change by limiting the global temperature rise to one and a half degrees Celsius. In this challenging situation, that is an opportunity for all of us. Across the world, we see initiatives to support the sustainable recovery of the global economy from governments, from NGOs, from communities, but also from companies. For its part in this recovery, Shell said in the middle of the pandemic in April, we are set a new ambition to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050 or sooner in step with society. Now, our current business plans will not get us there so they will have to change overtime to make sure that we achieve net-zero on all the emissions from the manufacturer of our products and from the use of our products. That means our own operational emissions, but also those associated with the use of our products.”
He added: “This means that even with a sustainable recovery after COVID-19 and all the best efforts to build back better, the world will continue to need oil and gas for decades to come. In fact, we expect natural gas to supply over 40 per cent of all the additional worldwide energy demand between now and 2035. As well as investing in renewable energies and new technology, as sustainable recovery also requires energy companies to reduce the emissions from the production of oil and gas since it's going to be here for decades.
Wetselaar believes strongly about the need to reduce methane emissions.
“Now, I believe that tackling methane emissions is particularly crucial because they are by and large unnecessary. That needs to get as close to zero as possible. Reducing methane emissions from the production of oil and gas alone is not enough. Even if all the energy companies will bring down methane emissions as far as possible, burning natural gas which still emits CO2. If the world is to limit the global average temperature rise to one point five degrees, it needs ways to mitigate these hard to avoid emissions. That's why the energy sector must pursue ways to offset or mitigate these emissions.”
Wetselaar touched on the issue of COVID-19.
“While COVID-19 has caused so much uncertainty in the world for you, I, and for everybody, I believe the energy sector can help with the sustainable recovery in many ways. I think we plan for resilience. We plan for COVID for longer. Not that we want to, but we need to. It will end, and we need to build a bridge to that time period when COVID is gone, when the economy really picks up again. We can all build back better and actually make the money to pay for building back better.”