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To tackle climate change the world needs every solution it can get, from more renewable energy such as wind and solar power to biofuels, electric vehicles and hydrogen. But we can also help nature to play a bigger role. Here’s how Shell plans to do just that.

I am a chemical engineer and, like all the engineers I know, I like to solve problems. For an engineer that normally involves doing something with technology or harnessing science.

But not everything can be fixed that way. And, in part, that is very true of climate change. Technology and science are essential, but they can only take us some of the way. So, as surprising as it might be for an engineer to say so, it is time for another way as well. It is time to turn to nature.

Why? Because if forests, and other natural environments, can be preserved permanently, it has a permanent effect on the atmosphere, storing carbon dioxide for good.

In fact, a paper produced by a number of expert bodies – including the Nature Conservancy and Wetlands International – estimated that protecting and creating forests, grasslands and wetlands could reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by more than 11 billion tonnes a year by 2030. This is an estimate, not hard scientific fact, but it is equivalent to the combined emissions of the USA and the European Union.

This is a huge opportunity and one we can take right now. And at scale.

That opportunity must become a reality. And Shell wants to play its part. From April 17, we are going to offer some of our customers the option to drive carbon-neutral. We will do so by bringing our customers together with some of the world’s best projects that are protecting forests and wetlands.

One of these is in the Cordillera Azul forest, a national park between the Andes and the Amazon Basin in Peru. This project includes 3.7 million hectares of forest, much of which is under threat.

Another project is Katingan Mentaya, which protects 157,000 hectares of peatland habitats in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. This threatened land is home to several critically endangered species, including up to 10% of the surviving Bornean orangutans, southern Bornean gibbons and proboscis monkeys.

These projects each generate carbon credits. Each credit, independently certified, represents a tonne of carbon dioxide either removed from the atmosphere or prevented from entering it. By buying these credits along with their fuel, our customers offset the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from their driving and help fund these projects.

Separately, Shell is also launching a business to create its own projects which will, in time, also generate carbon credits. An example is a project led by the Netherlands National Forestry Department to plant five million trees. We will also work to reforest 300-hectares in the Castilla y Leon region of Spain, planting around 300,000 trees by the end of this year.

Shell’s range of activities to work with nature could represent a potential investment of up to $300 million over the next three years.

Our initiative to offer carbon-neutral driving will begin with customers in the Netherlands. We will then offer similar choices to customers elsewhere, starting with the UK later this year.

Shell will offset all the CO2 emissions associated with our premium V-Power fuel bought in The Netherlands, at no extra cost to customers. For those customers who buy our regular fuel, we will offer them the option of paying one eurocent a litre to offset their emissions.

Shell will pay its share too. The CO2 emissions caused when fuel is used are not all of the emissions associated with that fuel. There are also CO2 emissions caused by production, processing and transport. Shell will cover this cost for those customers who participate.

The fuel they use will be carbon neutral. I believe this is a good investment in an area that is critical to tackling climate change: more than 18% of the world’s CO2 emissions come from road transport.

The environmental projects we are investing in under this programme should also benefit the people living near, and within them. So Shell will only buy carbon credits generated from the best examples. Such projects do not just prevent trees being cleared.

They also improve lives in the communities they work within, for example by providing jobs, education, clean water and health care.

Our new focus on working with nature and offering carbon-neutral fuel is just part of what Shell is doing. I have written previously about Shell’s Net Carbon Footprint ambition. Our progress towards that ambition will completely reshape the company.

It will do so in step with society’s progress towards achieving the goal of the Paris Agreement: of restricting global warming to well-below 2 degrees Celsius.

Our work on that ambition goes on. We are installing hundreds of charging points for electric cars at our retail sites, making cleaner-burning liquefied natural gas an option for heavy transport and investing in establishing refuelling networks for hydrogen vehicles.

We are working on improving our current fuels and lubricants to increase engine efficiency and on advanced biofuels. We are investing in solar, wind and battery power.

Helping our customers drive carbon-neutral is not the only answer to climate change. But it is one answer. And by linking our customers in one part of the world with action on greenhouse gas emissions in another we are giving people the opportunity to act today. I hope we will be able to offer it to many more customers in the near future.

Source : Linkedin
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