European oil giant Royal Dutch Shell wants to play a major role in combating climate change in the coming decades, CEO Ben van Beurden told CNBC on Wednesday.
Shell announced on Tuesday that it will aim to cut its carbon footprint by 20 percent by 2035 and halve its CO2 emissions by 2050. That is a lofty goal for a company that counts itself among the largest oil companies in the world.
The Anglo-Dutch company will also start disclosing how much carbon is emitted from the energy products it sells into the market. Currently, Shell reports on carbon emitted from its own operations, but does not release estimates that measure how much its business is contributing to global emissions.
"Our view is if society needs to tackle the dual challenge of climate change but also accommodating higher demand for energy — as of course the energy poor need to get access to energy as well — we have to reduce the carbon footprint of the energy system as a society to a net zero level," van Beurden said in an interview that aired on CNBC's "Power Lunch."
"That means by 2050, we have to halve the carbon footprint," he said.
Asked how specifically an oil company of Shell's scale can so significantly cut carbon emissions, van Beurden said Shell will become more efficient and add more biofuels and renewable power into its business mix. It will also invest in areas like carbon capture and storage, an emerging technology that scrubs greenhouse gases from emissions and stores them underground, according to van Beurden.