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Shell Oil’s plan to ease global warming will be presented in Aspen Tuesday


David Hone, chief climate advisor for Shell International

A key figure in Shell Oil Co.’s surprising emergence as a world leader in demonstrating how to reduce fossil fuel use and prevent global warming from reaching catastrophic levels will outline his company’s work in Aspen this week.

David Hone, Shell International’s chief climate adviser, is attending a workshop on industrial de-carbonization at the Aspen Global Change Institute and will give a public presentation Tuesday night at the Limelight Hotel in Aspen. It’s titled, “How Society Can Meet the Goals of the Paris Agreement.”

Hone is part of a team that developed Shell’s “Sky Scenario” that shows a path to no new carbon-dioxide emissions by 2070.

“After nearly 100 years of discussion on the climate issue, the world is not dealing with it sufficiently,” Hone said late last week in a phone interview.

So, Shell developed a scenario that shows what it will take to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement on greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, signed by 195 countries in 2015 but eschewed by President Donald Trump.

Long-range planning on climate change typically looks at factors such as population growth and technological advances and comes up with scenarios of how they will affect emissions. Shell worked backward from a goal of no net new emissions of CO2 and developed the path of how to get there.

“That means in 2070 if you still have fossil fuel use still going on, and our view is you will because it’s not possible to remove it all from the global economy, that you have to remove an equivalent amount of CO2 from the atmosphere,” Hone said.

The Sky Scenario lays out the plan, which builds off tools in the Paris Agreement and factors in technology likely to evolve along the way.

“It’s technically feasible,” he said. “You have the industrial capacity to make the changes. There’s nothing in there that prevents you from actually doing this. We’re not requiring the world to suddenly invent nuclear fusion or something like that. It’s all technologies that are scalable today.”

Some required policies, such as a carbon tax, are already being applied in some places around the globe. The challenge is developing widespread societal and political will.

“The policymakers need to act because society tells them to,” Hone said.

His presentation at the Limelight will be geared toward the average person rather than his “usual suspects” at think tanks such as the Aspen Global change Institute.

“I think this is one of the issues of our time,” Hone said. “We know the world is warming. We know more CO2 is going to the atmosphere. We know that all the technologies and solutions lie in our hands, but we’re apparently not solving it. This is to help people understand what these pathways might look like and why we should do this.”

Emily Jake-Scott, program director at the Aspen Climate Change Institute, said the organization is holding a workshop this week with energy and policy experts. The Institute has a public lectures program designed to connect researchers that it brings to Aspen with the public.

Hone said he is optimistic that humankind will slow global warming.

“All pieces of the puzzle are on the table. It’s all about assembling it and motivating people to assemble it,” he said.

The outlook has improved significantly in the past decade or so, from his expert observations.

“Now it’s really a question of when you can decarbonize rather than if you can decarbonize,” Hone said. “I think that’s a real change in the last 10 to 15 years. Once you can see a solution, you’re more inclined to act on it to bring it forward as opposed to just looking at it and saying I don’t have a clue what to do.”

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