This story was originally published by the Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
A man of Ben van Beurden’s power and reputation for blunt speaking is capable of silencing a ballroom packed with his boisterous peers. When the chief executive of Shell rose to address an industry gathering in a London hotel, a respectful hush descended.
Van Beurden, 57, rose from a modest background in the Netherlands to the top of a cut-throat, politically fraught sector that rarely finds itself out of the public firing line. The annual black-tie dinner at International Petroleum Week in February, a typical nexus of senior executives and high-ranking government officials, was expecting a frank assessment of its response to its biggest challenge: global warming. Van Beurden did not disappoint.
Warning the room that the industry had a credibility problem, that it was “aloof” when it came to issues like climate change, he said: “You cannot talk credibly about lowering emissions globally if, for example, you are slow to acknowledge climate change, if you undermine calls for an effective carbon price, and if you always descend into the ‘jobs ve... Read more