Energy divestment campaigns a 'red herring', says Shell CEO

Reuters News
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Posted: May 21, 2015 11:01 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell Chief Executive Ben van Beurden on Thursday slammed as a "red herring" calls for investors to divest from energy companies as part of the fight against climate change.

Van Beurden singled out the "Keep it in the Ground" campaign led by British newspaper The Guardian that aims at keeping charitable funds from investing in fossil fuels.

"The divest campaign, or Keep it in the Ground or the carbon bubble, ignore reality that 80 percent of the investment in the industry has to be done just to stand still to arrest decline. It is a red herring," van Beurden told shareholders.

"It is a very seductive argument and that is why it catches on, but it is a red herring.

"All those advocates of divesting or keep it in the ground are actually doing society a massive disservice because they create the illusion of there being a single silver bullet that is simply not there."

Large investors, including faith groups, university endowments and public pension funds have all in recent months backed fossil fuel divestments ahead of the U.N. climate change summit in Paris at the end of the year.

A deal in Paris to limit global warming could force billions of dollars of oil, coal and gas to remain in the ground.

(Reporting by Ron Bousso; Editing by David Holmes)