The world needs a range of measures to limit carbon dioxide emissions while meeting rising energy demand. They include the protection and restoration of natural ecosystems such as forests, grasslands and wetlands. But what are nature-based solutions and what is Shell doing to support them?
The vegetation covering around a third of the world’s surface is vital to maintaining the planet's natural balance. It supports intricate wildlife systems and helps maintain a healthy atmosphere, by taking in carbon dioxide (CO2) and releasing oxygen.
Yet it is under threat: from human activities, such as clearing woodland for farming and illegal logging, as well as climate change. Globally, projects are under way to protect and restore these natural ecosystems.
Shell recognises the role that nature-based solutions can play in the future of our planet. As we work to cut the emissions from our own operations, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy that our customers use, we know there is no single solution.
Our approach includes improving the energy efficiency of our operations; selling more, cleaner-burning natural gas; generating electricity from solar and wind; and providing lower-carbon fuels such as biofuels and hydrogen, as well as more electric-vehicle charging points.
We are also supporting nature-based solutions and plan to invest up to $300 million over the next three years, between 2019 and 2021.
Nature-based solutions, or natural climate solutions, are projects which protect, transform or restore land. In this way, nature absorbs more CO2 emissions from the atmosphere.
Such activities can lead to the marketing, trading and sale of carbon credits. Each credit represents the avoidance or removal of greenhouse gases equivalent to 1 tonne of CO2.
Such projects have the potential to provide over a third of the cost-effective climate mitigation needed between now and 2030 to stabilise warming to below 2°C, according to leading academics and non-governmental organisations.
Such projects also have extra benefits such as offering alternative sources of income to local communities, improving soil productivity, cleaning air and water, and maintaining biodiversity.
Other strategic collaborations
Shell is also directly supporting projects, starting with a number of strategic collaborations.
In the Netherlands, Shell and Staatsbosbeheer, the Dutch National Forestry Department, will plant more than 5 million trees over the next 12 years with Shell investing €17.4 million.
Shell has also signed an agreement with Land Life Company to create a 300-hectare reforestation project in Spain. Around 300,000 trees will be planted in the Castilla y Leon region by the end of 2019.
In the UK, Shell has launched a partnership with Forestry and Land Scotland, the Scottish government agency. Over the next five years, we will work together to generate carbon credits by helping to plant or regenerate around 1 million trees. This is an investment of approximately ￡5 million.
Shell already offers drivers a range of ways to lower their emissions: from providing charging for electric vehicles to guidance on efficient driving.
From 2019, customers that visit a Shell service station in the Netherlands or the UK can drive carbon neutral through the use of nature-based carbon credits.
Shell will roll out similar choices to customers in other countries. This complements Shell's existing programme to help business customers avoid, reduce or compensate their carbon emissions, by supplying lower emission fuels and electric vehicle charging.
The Sky scenario illustrates a technically possible, but challenging pathway for society to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Shell is a big company that supplies around 3% of the energy the world uses. We want to play our part and contribute to the global effort to tackle climate change and meet the goal of the Paris Agreement. Working towards our Net Carbon Footprint ambition is how we plan to do this.
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