Shell “should have been more assertive” in its warnings about climate change, Ben van Beurden, CEO of the Dutch oil and gas giant said in a podcast by Studio Energie. Environmental group Milieudefensie recently filed a lawsuit against Shell for the role it played in the climate problems the world currently faces.
In 1991 Shell released a film that outlined a disturbing picture of the problems climate change will cause in the future. “Perhaps we should have talked louder, maybe we should have made a bigger problem out if it? To be honest, I think, if we look back on that, we could and should have been more assertive”, Van Beurden said in the podcast, according to NOS. “Because now the problem is put on us, while ultimately it is of course a much broader social problem.”
“It is increasingly Shell against society and I am of course very concerned about that, because that’s not how I identify myself. And I think that no one in Shell recognizes the way in which we are characterized from time to time.” According to Van Beurden, Shell is a totally different company than what it is portrayed as, but also carries part of the blame for its image. “We have to express ourselves better, profile ourselves more clearly, perhaps also do things differently, and certainly say things differently.”
About the Milieudefensie lawsuit, Van Beurden said: “My feeling is one of disappointment that it has come to this”, he said. “It’s a complicated social problem that needs to be solved collectively. It can certainly not be solved by one party.” According to the CEO, oil and gas remain necessary and the demand will not disappear simply by removing the offer. “That is, I think, an extremely simplistic representation of things that honestly disturbs me from time to time. Because it creates the impression that there is a simple solution.”
Last week it was revealed that Shell and Exxon want compensation from the government for gas left un-mined in Groningen now that the government is gradually reducing gas extraction in the province to zero.
According to Van Beurden, the discussions on that topic are going well. “We are not in conflict with the government, we are having very constructive discussions. It is a complicated problem that we all want to solve. I think the Minister [Eric Wiebes of Economic Affairs] has done a great job. I find it brave what he has done and we have a lot of understanding for it. A claim is totally out of the question. There is no talk of a claim.”
But there are talks about a financial settlement, Van Beurden said. According to him, the distribution of costs and revenues must be considered and it must be ensured that NAM remains a financially strong company that can meet all its obligations.