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In its annual and strategic report for 2013, Royal Dutch Shell warns that its profitability will be hit as governments step up efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Shell expects a growing share of its CO₂ emissions to become subject to climate change regulation leading to increased costs. Earlier this year, Shell had already reported a 48% decline in expected earnings.
Tim Ratcliffe, 350.org European Divestment Coordinator commented:
“Shell’s most recent announcement should serve as a stark warning for investors to pull their funds out of fossil fuels. Especially public institutions like universities, municipalities, religious institutions and pension funds have a fiduciary duty to exercise responsible stewardship of the public funds they are entrusted with. First of all, it is inherently wrong to support an industry whose business model is based on wrecking our future. Secondly, fossil fuel companies are currently grossly overvalued. Eighty percent of their oil, coal and gas reserves need to stay underground to limit global warming below 2 °C, which will turn them into stranded assets. This makes these investments a highly risky gamble.”
This latest news from Shell is only the most recent development in the uncertain financial picture for fossil fuel companies. Earlier this year, 70 global investors, managing over $3 trillion of assets, have demanded the oil, gas and coal companies asses the risks that climate change poses to their business plans. And just last week Norway has decided to set up an expert group to see if its $840bn oil fund (the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund) should stop investing in fossil fuel companies.
Shell’s announcement comes as delegates are meeting in Bonn this week for the first United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) session for 2014 with discussions around a global agreement on emission reductions.
The year’s first negotiation session comes after a series of extreme weather events which scientists have linked to climate patterns. These include: an unusually cold winter in parts of North America, unprecedented floods in the UK, heat extremes in Australia, and unusually mild weather in eastern Europe, including Russia, which interrupted the Winter Olympics.
As 2014 is set out to be a crucial year for the international climate policy process, with heads of state set to meet later this year in New York for the Ban Ki Moon Climate Summit, 350.org will continue to build the divestment movement catalyzing necessary global action.
NOTES TO EDITORS
 Bloomberg: Shell profit drops 48% as oil and gas production declines