Shell agrees to set short-term caps on carbon emissions

Energy giant Royal Dutch Shell agreed Monday to set short-term goals for reducing carbon emissions that will be linked to executive pay, a response to pressure from investors who said urgency was needed to fight climate change.

Shell said the targets will be set for rolling three- or five-year periods beginning in 2020. The company's long-term climate goals call for reducing the net carbon emissions of the products it sells by 20 percent by 2035 and 50 percent by 2050.

CEO Ben van Beurden says the targets were the result of "unprecedented collaboration" with investors and will help position Shell for success as countries around the world work to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

"We are taking important steps towards turning our net carbon footprint ambition into reality by setting shorter-term targets," van Beurden said in a statement. "This ambition positions the company well for the future."

Van Beurden has long said Shell, which has its headquarters in the Netherlands, was planning for the day when demand for oil starts fades and major economies embraces alternative energy sources such as electricity, wind and nuclear power.

But investors, including the Church of England, said short-term goals were needed to accelerate progress.

Under the 2015 Paris agreement, governments around the world pledged to prevent global temperatures from rising by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Negotiators from nearly 200 nations are meeting in Katowice, Poland, this week and next to work out exactly how they are going to achieve that goal.

"As governments meet at the United Nations climate negotiations in Poland, I am delighted to see a unique announcement on climate change between investors and one of the largest companies in the world — Royal Dutch Shell," Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said. "This sets Shell on a path to reducing the net carbon footprint of its energy products."