Shell’s total direct GHG emissions were 72 million metric tons CO2e last year, down 2.7 percent from 74 million in 2011, according to the company’s 2012 sustainability report. This meant GHGs dropped faster than revenue but far slower than income.
From 2011 to 2012, the company’s revenue dropped 0.6 percent, from $470 billion to $467 billion, and income was down 13.9 percent, from $31.2 billion to $26.8 billion.
The main reasons for the emissions drop were reduced flaring in Nigeria and divestments in Shell’s downstream business, the company says. These were partly offset by the ramp-up of production at its Pearl gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant in Qatar.
The report is relatively short at 41 pages, but packs a lot of information into that space. GRI confirmed Shell’s A+ reporting level for the sustainability report, together with Shell’s annual report, Form 20-F and its corporate website.
The company says it has focused on managing CO2 emissions, cutting energy use, reducing flaring, using less water, preventing spills, and conserving biodiversity.
But one of the most notable metrics in the report is waste.
The company’s waste output has risen significantly in the past two years, from 2.1 million metric tons in 2010, to 2.6 million in 2011 and 3.1 million in 2012: an increase of 20 percent over one year and 46 percent over two years. Non-hazardous waste makes up most of those totals (see chart). The report does not explain why waste levels have risen so rapidly.
The company says that in 2012 it recycled, reused or sold over 300,000 metric tons of material that would otherwise have been disposed of as waste.
About 55 percent of Shell’s 2012 GHG emissions came from the refineries and chemical plants in its downstream business. The production of oil and gas in its upstream business accounted for over 40 percent of GHG emissions, and shipping activities for less than 5 percent.
Indirect GHG emissions from purchased energy (electricity, heat and steam) were 9 million metric tons CO2e, a decrease from 2011. Shell estimates that the CO2 emissions from its refinery and natural gas products were around 580 million metric tons last year.
The company says a strong, stable price for CO2 within a comprehensive policy framework is needed to achieve significant emissions reductions in the long term. But it says it is not waiting for regulations to emerge, and has put its own price on carbon, of $40 per metric ton. Shell says it considers this CO2 emissions cost in all major investment decisions.