Important information: The value of investments and the income from them, can go down as well as up, so you may get back less than you invest.

WITH the start of the COP26 climate conference now just days away, research published by three historians in the peer-reviewed Global Environmental Change journal, outlining alleged efforts by Total, the French energy group, to cast doubt over emerging climate science from the seventies until as late as the 1990s, will have stirred up uncomfortable memories for Royal Dutch Shell.

It too has faced similar accusations in recent years of having been aware of the climate risks associated with fossil fuels decades ago. And with the spotlight focused on the entire oil industry right now, and at a time when it seeks to build trust and support for new strategies focused on cleaner fuels, these latest revelations will prove very awkward.

Shell executives will probably prefer to dwell on Shell’s notable if slightly eyebrow-raising inclusion in a book just published by Jane Goodall, called The Book of Hope: A survival guide for an endangered planet.

In it, Goodall, the English primatologist and anthropologist, tells the story of Ben van Beurden, chief executive of the Royal Dutch Shell oil group, who it is claimed decided to support the 2015 Paris climate agreement because his 10-year-old daughter asked if it was true his company was destroying the planet.

What may be more telling about the company’s strategic plans is the departure of Maarten Wetselaar, head of gas and renewable energy, who is leaving Shell after 25 years. Market watchers will recall a similar reshuffle last month at rival BP, whose head of the gas and low-carbon business left after three decades at the company.

Such seismic changes are notable as both these oil majors set out to transform themselves from oil companies into integrated providers of cleaner energy. And there will no doubt be more to come.

Shell unveiled plans this year to cut the carbon intensity of the fossil fuels it produces and sells but is under pressure to accelerate that process after a Dutch court ruled in May that its commitments did not go far enough. In response, Shell, which has appealed against the ruling, arguing it has been singled out, has said it will fast-track its energy transition plan.

Shell is in the spotlight right now, and it knows it. Thursday’s upcoming third quarter update and dividend announcement will be closely watched.

More on Shell

Important information: Reference to specific securities should not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell these securities and is included for the purposes of illustration only. When you are thinking about investing in shares, it’s generally a good idea to consider holding them alongside other investments in a diversified portfolio of assets. Investors should note that the views expressed may no longer be current and may have already been acted upon. This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to a Fidelity adviser or an authorised financial adviser of your choice.

Share this article

Latest articles

Watch: Market News Update - 16 May 2022

In this week’s market update: another down week for shares; bond markets catc…


Tom Stevenson

Tom Stevenson

Fidelity International

Market news today - Contrarians sense a turning point

What’s driving your investments this week?


Tom Stevenson

Tom Stevenson

Fidelity International

How to turn a profit in the post-Covid market

A bigger state and rising inflation means it really may be different this time


Tom Stevenson

Tom Stevenson

Fidelity International