Energy Ink

The misery according to Shell

What an energy giant really thinks of our coming challenges and opportunities

February 15, 2011

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What will the energy world look like in 2050? At Royal Dutch Shell, the answer lies somewhere between mild discomfort and all-out misery. Yes, we’re talking run-for-the-hills misery. The energy giant this week — on Valentine’s Day no less — released Signals and Signposts, a rather bleak update to a forecast released three years ago that imagined how the world might look in 2020. By 2050, Jeremy Bentham, the firm’s vice-president of business environment, sees a world of “greater economic volatility and cyclicality, driving political volatility and perceived investment risk.” Among other shots of realism, Shell notes that regulatory uncertainty has grown in tandem with greenhouse gas emissions since the climate summit in Copenhagen. As far as putting a lid on runaway emissions of carbon dioxide, the best policy-makers, industrialists and environmentalists might hope for is a “regionally differentiated and politically feasible patchwork” of measures aimed at curbing the problem. The upshot seems to be that what happens in the next five to 10 years in the policy arena matters. “The policies in place in the next five years shape investment for the next 10 years, which largely shape the global energy picture out to 2050,” Shell says.

Steven LeVine at the Oil and the Glory as a good wrap-up of the report. Alternatively, you can watch Mr. Bentham describe the coming wrath below:

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