Royal Dutch Shell on Thursday deepened its ambition to battle climate change, setting the oil and gas sector's broadest plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
The new climate goals put the Anglo-Dutch company - at least on paper - ahead of the most progressive of its rivals, including BP and Italy's Eni.
"Society's expectations have shifted quickly in the debate around climate change," Ben van Beurden, chief executive officer said in a statement.
"Shell now needs to go further with our own ambitions, which is why we aim to be a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050 or sooner."
Shell said it plans to fully offset carbon emissions from its own oil and gas production by 2050, in what is known as Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.
Those emissions do not include the much larger category of greenhouse gases emitted from fuels and products it sells to customers such as jet fuel and gasoline, known as Scope 3.
Shell has not included Scope 3 emissions in its ambition, saying it cannot control the way customers use its products.
However, it will "pivot towards serving businesses and sectors that by 2050 are also net-zero emissions," which it said means its Scope 3 emissions should be offset.
Unlike its rivals, the ambition applies to all of the products it produces, refines and buys from other companies.
Shell also expanded its broader aim to cut the total carbon emission footprint from energy products its sells, an intensity-based measure, by around 65% by 2050, and by around 30% by 2035.
Previously Shell aimed to reduce its net carbon footprint by 50% by 2050 and by 20% by 2035.
Shell has rejected setting long-term targets, opting instead for ambitions which its says allow it flexibility to move 'in step' with society's shift away from fossil fuels in order to battle global warming.
'Battle Global Warming'
Shell did not outline how it plans to change its spending plans in order to meet the new climate goals. Last year it spent roughly 8% of its $24 billion budget on low-carbon energies.
"Shell’s aim is that, in the future, its operating plans and budgets will change to reflect this movement towards its new net-zero emissions ambition," it said in a statement.
The Anglo-Dutch company also set binding targets to reduce its net carbon footprint in the three years to 2022 by 3% to 4% from a 2016 baseline.
News by Reuters, edited by Donna Ahern, Checkout. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.