In an open letter to Shell’s Ben Van Beurden, the UK’s former top climate envoy says now is the time for him to show leadership
Dear Mr. van Beurden – one month ago, at the IP Week dinner in London, you gave a speech calling on your peers, as you put it in your title, to be “Less Aloof, More Assertive” on climate change.
Given your prominence as CEO of Shell and the resurgence of interest in climate, your speech has rightly provoked debate. Perhaps I could set out some reflections that passed through my mind as I studied it.
I feel privileged to be doing so from this platform. I hope the CFE family, and Jean Eudes [Moncomble, CFE Secretary General] particular, will see this as an appropriate way of honouring their invitation.
Your speech, Mr. van Beurden, was after all an appeal to your industry, which is strongly represented here today. Most of what I am about to say applies well beyond Shell.
The title of your speech is intriguing. I have been involved in this debate for twenty years, six of them as the UK’s diplomatic envoy on climate change. During that time many adjectives have been applied to your industry – not always fairly. But nobody has ever accused you of being aloof.
Yes, there have been more strident voices. You have spoken in measured terms, in prose not poetry, with the quiet confidence of those who know they never have to shout to be heard. And you have sometimes chosen to express yourselves behind closed doors, or through others, rather than out in the open.