EU lawmakers agree to phase out combustion-engine cars by 2035


EU lawmakers struck a deal on Thursday to effectively ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2035, with the goal of accelerating the switch to electric vehicles and to combat climate change.

However, the agreement came as scientists warned emissions must fall by 45 per cent this decade to hit the 1.5C target, suggesting even the landmark move will not be enough, and many more measures will have to be taken.

Currently, cars account for 12 per cent of all CO2 emissions in the EU, while transportation overall accounts for around a quarter.

Head of the European parliament’s environment commission, French MEP Pascal Canfin, said that the negotiations had been finalised and legislation was put in place to stop new CO2 emitting cars. 

Their agreement means that they are aiming for 100 per cent zero emission vehicles by 2035 and intermediary phases between 2025 and 2030. 

In order for the EU to meet the target of only 1.5C of heating, emissions must fall by about half by 2030.

But current plans being put in place to target climate change may not be enough, and may only achieve a five- to 10-percent reduction in emissions by 2030. 

Also, the UN environment agency has revealed that the only way to lessen the impact of the climate crisis is a ‘rapid transformation of societies.’

And after analysing the gap between CO2 cuts pledged by countries and what needs to be done to limit rise in global temperature to 1.5C, it said that progress has been ‘woefully inadequate.’ 

Despite the bleak new report, Downing Street announced Thursday that Sunak will not be attending the Cop27 summit in Egypt next month in order to focus on ‘other pressing domestic commitments’, sparking outrage.

The new report also came as oil giant Shell announced another huge spike in profits – 8.2billion in just three months – without paying a penny in windfall tax.

Currently, cars account for 12 per cent of all CO2 emissions in the EU, while transportation overall accounts for around a quarter. Pictured: A Peugeot DS E-Tense Performance

Currently, cars account for 12 per cent of all CO2 emissions in the EU, while transportation overall accounts for around a quarter. Pictured: A Peugeot DS E-Tense Performance 

In order for the EU to meet the target of only 1.5C of heating, emissions must fall by about half by 2030. But current plans being put in place to target climate change may not be enough, and may only achieve a five- to 10-percent reduction in emissions by 2030. Pictured: Strong winds in Folkestone, another extreme weather event

In order for the EU to meet the target of only 1.5C of heating, emissions must fall by about half by 2030. But current plans being put in place to target climate change may not be enough, and may only achieve a five- to 10-percent reduction in emissions by 2030. Pictured: Strong winds in Folkestone, another extreme weather event 

Despite the new legislation and pledge on combustion-engine cars, Downing Street on Thursday announced that Sunak will not be attending the Cop27 summit in Egypt next month in order to focus on 'other pressing domestic commitments', sparking outrage

Despite the new legislation and pledge on combustion-engine cars, Downing Street on Thursday announced that Sunak will not be attending the Cop27 summit in Egypt next month in order to focus on ‘other pressing domestic commitments’, sparking outrage

After the negotiations on combustion-engine cars, Mr Canfin had tweeted: ‘Historic EU decision for the climate which definitively confirms the target of 100 percent zero emission vehicles in 2035 with intermediary phases between 2025 and 2030.’

A spokesperson for the Czech presidency of the EU Council also tweeted ‘We have an agreement.’

Talks had taken place between representatives of the European Council fronting for the 27 EU countries.

The European Council got underway on Thursday and was set to continue until an agreement was reached.   

It comes as the EU takes further steps to move towards a carbon-neutral future- a key pledge by commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.  

But not everyone has been fully on board with all of the targets. Conservative lawmakers and Germany showed reluctance on some of them as they fear that there would be a costly burden on EU automakers competing against global rivals with looser targets.   

Elsewhere, after the negotiations on combustion-engine cars, Mr Canfin, left, had tweeted: 'Historic EU decision for the climate which definitively confirms the target of 100 percent zero emission vehicles in 2035 with intermediary phases between 2025 and 2030'

Elsewhere, after the negotiations on combustion-engine cars, Mr Canfin, left, had tweeted: ‘Historic EU decision for the climate which definitively confirms the target of 100 percent zero emission vehicles in 2035 with intermediary phases between 2025 and 2030’

Thursday's agreement to ban cars with internal combustion engines was voted for by the European Parliament in June

Thursday’s agreement to ban cars with internal combustion engines was voted for by the European Parliament in June

Thursday’s agreement to ban cars with internal combustion engines was voted for by the European Parliament in June.   

That backed a commission proposal unveiled last year, part of an ambitious climate target to cut emissions by 90 percent by 2035 compared to a 2021 baseline.

It comes as consumers affected by energy costs and greener traffic regulations begin to move away from CO2-emitting models, with around 12 per cent of new cars sold in the EU now electric.

And China, the world’s biggest automobile market, wants at least half of all new cars to be electric, plug-in hybrid or hydrogen-powered by 2035.  

However, the UN has said that more needs to be done in order to stick to the 1.5 degree target and has said that there is ‘no credible pathway to 1.5 degrees in place.’

On Wednesday it warned that current plans to combat climate change leave the world on track to heat by as much as 2.6 degrees this century.

It said that emissions have to fall by 45 per cent this decade in order to limit global warming. 

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola addresses members of the Latvian Parliament during her visit to the Saeima (Parliament) in Riga, Latvia

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola addresses members of the Latvian Parliament during her visit to the Saeima (Parliament) in Riga, Latvia

President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola shakes hands with Chairwoman of the Latvian Parliament Inara Murniece in Riga, Latvia

President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola shakes hands with Chairwoman of the Latvian Parliament Inara Murniece in Riga, Latvia

The Emissions Gap report, completed by the United Nations Environment Programme, found that national promises made since last year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow would only shave less than one percent off global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Fears continue to grow over climate change, as numerous weather events strike the world, exacerbated by climbing temperatures.

Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, the world has warmed nearly 1.2 degrees. 

The Emissions Gap report examines the difference between the planet-heating pollution that will still be released under countries’ decarbonisation plans and what science says is needed to keep to the Paris Agreement goal of limiting warming to between 1.5-2.0C.

Progress on emissions cutting was labelled ‘woefully inadequate’ by UNEP, a day after the UN’s climate change agency said that governments were still doing ‘nowhere near’ enough to keep global heating to 1.5C.  

It stated that the world was ‘hurtling towards’ a temperature rise far in excess of the Paris goals. 

The Emissions Gap report, completed by the United Nations Environment Programme, found that national promises made since last year's COP26 summit in Glasgow would only shave less than one percent off global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Pictured: Electric cars in Rome

The Emissions Gap report, completed by the United Nations Environment Programme, found that national promises made since last year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow would only shave less than one percent off global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Pictured: Electric cars in Rome 

Fears continue to grow over climate change, as numerous weather events strike the world, exacerbated by climbing temperatures. Pictured: Police detain climate change protesters

Fears continue to grow over climate change, as numerous weather events strike the world, exacerbated by climbing temperatures. Pictured: Police detain climate change protesters 

The Emissions Gap report examines the difference between the planet-heating pollution that will still be released under countries' decarbonisation plans and what science says is needed to keep to the Paris Agreement goal of limiting warming to between 1.5-2.0C. Pictured: A sunken boat at a drought-stricken lake in June

The Emissions Gap report examines the difference between the planet-heating pollution that will still be released under countries’ decarbonisation plans and what science says is needed to keep to the Paris Agreement goal of limiting warming to between 1.5-2.0C. Pictured: A sunken boat at a drought-stricken lake in June

Inger Andersen, the executive director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said: ‘This report tells us in cold scientific terms what nature has been telling us all year through deadly floods, storms and raging fires: we have to stop filling our atmosphere with greenhouse gases, and stop doing it fast.

‘We had our chance to make incremental changes, but that time is over. Only a root-and-branch transformation of our economies and societies can save us from accelerating climate disaster.

‘It is a tall, and some would say impossible, order to reform the global economy and almost halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, but we must try,’ she said. ‘Every fraction of a degree matters: to vulnerable communities, to ecosystems, and to every one of us.’

The UN secretary general, António Guterres, said: ‘Emissions remain at dangerous and record highs and are still rising. We must close the emissions gap before climate catastrophe closes in on us all.’

Prof David King, a former UK chief scientific adviser, said: ‘The report is a dire warning to all countries – none of whom are doing anywhere near enough to manage the climate emergency.’

‘It’s another year squandered in terms of actually doing something about the problem,’ the report’s lead author, Anne Olhoff, said.

‘That’s not to say that all nations have not taken this seriously. But from a global perspective, it’s definitely very far from adequate.’

Inger Andersen, the executive director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said: 'This report tells us in cold scientific terms what nature has been telling us all year through deadly floods, storms and raging fires: we have to stop filling our atmosphere with greenhouse gases, and stop doing it fast'

Inger Andersen, the executive director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said: ‘This report tells us in cold scientific terms what nature has been telling us all year through deadly floods, storms and raging fires: we have to stop filling our atmosphere with greenhouse gases, and stop doing it fast’

The UN secretary general, António Guterres, pictured with ex-PM Boris, said: 'Emissions remain at dangerous and record highs and are still rising. We must close the emissions gap before climate catastrophe closes in on us all'

The UN secretary general, António Guterres, pictured with ex-PM Boris, said: ‘Emissions remain at dangerous and record highs and are still rising. We must close the emissions gap before climate catastrophe closes in on us all’

UNEP’s report discovered that in order for temperature rises to be capped at 2C, emissions would need to fall 30 per cent faster by 2030 than envisioned under countries’ most up-to-date plans.   

The gap in order to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees is 45 per cent.   

Due to the 2015 Paris deal, countries have to submit ever deeper emission cutting plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs.

UNEP found that ‘unconditional’ NDCs – which countries plan regardless of external support – would probably lead to Earth’s average temperature rising by 2.6C by 2100. Scientists warn that level would be catastrophic for humanity and for nature.

The body also found that conditional NDCS, relying on international funding to be achieved, would probably lead to a 2.4C temperature rise this century. 

In 2020, largely due to wide-scale lockdowns and travel restrictions across the world, pollution fell more than seven per cent, according to UNEP. 

But UNEP said that seven per cent decreases are needed every year this decade in order to hit the 1.5 degree target.   

However, due to surges in power use after the pandemic, UNEP said that greenhouse gas emissions in 2021 could end up being the highest on record, 52.8 billion tonnes.   

UNEP found that 'unconditional' NDCs - which countries plan regardless of external support - would probably lead to Earth's average temperature rising by 2.6C by 2100. Scientists warn that level would be catastrophic for humanity and for nature

UNEP found that ‘unconditional’ NDCs – which countries plan regardless of external support – would probably lead to Earth’s average temperature rising by 2.6C by 2100. Scientists warn that level would be catastrophic for humanity and for nature

The body also found that conditional NDCS, relying on international funding to be achieved, would probably lead to a 2.4C temperature rise this century

The body also found that conditional NDCS, relying on international funding to be achieved, would probably lead to a 2.4C temperature rise this century

Olhoff said: ‘We see a full bounce-back in emissions after Covid,’ said Olhoff.

‘It’s a missed opportunity in terms of utilising these unprecedented recovery funds to accelerate a green transition.’

A separate body, the International Energy Agency, said that it believed global energy emissions could peak in 2025 as surging oil and gas prices spurred a drive to renewables.

But UNEP said that while the switch to greener tech in the power sector was accelerating, several industries were lagging behind in the push towards net-zero emissions.

For example, in the food sector, which is responsible for around a third of emissions, dietary changes and cutting food loss could help reduce the sector’s footprint by more than 30 percent by 2050.

Olhoff said the financial sector was ‘part of the problem rather than part of the solution’ to climate change, with hundreds of billions funnelled annually to fossil fuel projects.

A separate body, the International Energy Agency, said that it believed global energy emissions could peak in 2025 as surging oil and gas prices spurred a drive to renewables

A separate body, the International Energy Agency, said that it believed global energy emissions could peak in 2025 as surging oil and gas prices spurred a drive to renewables

But UNEP said that while the switch to greener tech in the power sector was accelerating, several industries were lagging behind in the push towards net-zero emissions

But UNEP said that while the switch to greener tech in the power sector was accelerating, several industries were lagging behind in the push towards net-zero emissions

UNEP suggested the introduction of an effective carbon price under a global cap and trade system that would push investors to consider the environmental impact of their portfolios.

It also called for central banks to make more funds available and help create global low-carbon technology markets.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Thursday’s report showed the world ‘cannot afford any more greenwashing’.

‘Commitments to net zero are worth zero without the plans, policies and actions to back it up,’ he said in a video message.

Last year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that the world was likely to reach and even exceed 1.5C within decades, no matter how quickly emissions fall in the short term.

UNEP suggested the introduction of an effective carbon price under a global cap and trade system that would push investors to consider the environmental impact of their portfolios. Pictured: A coral reef believed to become the world's 'last coral refuge'

UNEP suggested the introduction of an effective carbon price under a global cap and trade system that would push investors to consider the environmental impact of their portfolios. Pictured: A coral reef believed to become the world’s ‘last coral refuge’

Last year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that the world was likely to reach and even exceed 1.5C within decades, no matter how quickly emissions fall in the short term. Pictured: Heavy rainfall in the US worsened by climate change

Last year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that the world was likely to reach and even exceed 1.5C within decades, no matter how quickly emissions fall in the short term. Pictured: Heavy rainfall in the US worsened by climate change

Olhoff said that for every year that passed without significant emissions cuts, 1.5C was getting ‘less realistic and less feasible’.

But she insisted that governments needed to accelerate the green transition to avoid as much damage as possible.

‘The more we learn, it’s absolutely clear that we should aim to get (temperature rises) as low as possible,’ Olhoff said.

‘Even if that means 1.6C instead of 1.5C, that’s definitely better than 2C degrees, just as 1.7C is worse than 1.6C.’

Elsewhere, in a move that has sparked outrage, Britain's newly-appointed prime minister has reportedly shunned attending the international gathering in Sharm-el-Sheikh in order to focus on 'other pressing domestic commitments', according to No10

Elsewhere, in a move that has sparked outrage, Britain’s newly-appointed prime minister has reportedly shunned attending the international gathering in Sharm-el-Sheikh in order to focus on ‘other pressing domestic commitments’, according to No10

The Cop-27 summit is being held between November 6-18 with world leaders expected to attend in the first week

The Cop-27 summit is being held between November 6-18 with world leaders expected to attend in the first week

Elsewhere, in a move that has infuriated many, Britain’s newly-appointed prime minister has reportedly shunned attending the international Cop27 gathering in Sharm-el-Sheikh in order to focus on ‘other pressing domestic commitments’, according to No10.

The Cop-27 summit is being held between November 6-18 with world leaders expected to attend in the first week.

Mr Sunak has unveiled plans for an Autumn budget on November 17 as he seeks to deal with a blackhole in the public finances following recent economic turmoil. 

Labour accused the PM of a ‘massive failure of leadership’ and claimed he would now be ‘missing in action’ on climate issues.

It comes after Mr Sunak downgraded the status of climate minister Graham Stuart, who will no longer be attending Cabinet. 

Alok Sharma, the Cop-26 President, also lost his right to attend Cabinet meetings as part of the new PM’s reshuffle this week.

It comes after Mr Sunak downgraded the status of climate minister Graham Stuart, who will no longer be attending Cabinet

It comes after Mr Sunak downgraded the status of climate minister Graham Stuart, who will no longer be attending Cabinet

Alok Sharma, the Cop-26 President, also lost his right to attend Cabinet meetings as part of the new PM's reshuffle this week

Alok Sharma, the Cop-26 President, also lost his right to attend Cabinet meetings as part of the new PM’s reshuffle this week

Downing Street insisted the PM remained ‘absolutely committed’ to supporting the climate conference and denied his decision to skip the summit signalled a downgrading of climate issues as a Government priority.

The No10 spokeswoman added: ‘We remain committed to net zero and to leading international and domestic action to tackle climate change.

‘The UK is forging ahead of many other countries on net zero.

‘We will obviously continue to work closely with Egypt as the hosts of Cop-27 and to make sure that all countries are making progress on the historic commitments they made at the Glasgow climate pact.’

Despite the PM’s focus on the upcoming Autumn budget on November 17, Mr Sunak has been telling world leaders in phone calls this week he is looking forward to seeing them in person at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, scheduled for November 15 and 16. 

Labour’s shadow climate secretary Ed Miliband branded Mr Sunak’s non-attendance at Cop-27 ‘a massive failure of leadership’.

‘We were the Cop-26 hosts and now the UK Prime Minister isn’t even bothering to turn up to Cop-27,’ he added.

‘What Rishi Sunak obviously fails to understand is that tackling the climate crisis isn’t just about our reputation and standing abroad, but the opportunities for lower bills, jobs, and energy security it can deliver at home.’

Labour's shadow climate secretary Ed Miliband branded Mr Sunak's non-attendance 'a massive failure of leadership'

Labour’s shadow climate secretary Ed Miliband branded Mr Sunak’s non-attendance ‘a massive failure of leadership’

'We were the Cop-26 hosts and now the UK Prime Minister isn't even bothering to turn up to Cop-27,' he added. 'What Rishi Sunak obviously fails to understand is that tackling the climate crisis isn't just about our reputation and standing abroad, but the opportunities for lower bills, jobs, and energy security it can deliver at home'

‘We were the Cop-26 hosts and now the UK Prime Minister isn’t even bothering to turn up to Cop-27,’ he added. ‘What Rishi Sunak obviously fails to understand is that tackling the climate crisis isn’t just about our reputation and standing abroad, but the opportunities for lower bills, jobs, and energy security it can deliver at home’

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said: ‘Rishi Sunak does not speak for the British people by refusing to take climate change seriously.

‘He has failed to rule out a new ban on onshore wind, failed to help households make their homes warmer and is now failing to attend the Cop summit.

‘It flies in the face of the UK’s proud tradition of leading the world in our response to the climate change.’

Green MP Caroline Lucas posted on Twitter: ‘Shame on him.’

Darren Jones, the Labour chair of the House of Commons’ Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, also criticised Mr Sunak over his downgrading of Government climate roles.

He tweeted: ‘In week one, Rishi Sunak has demoted both Cabinet-level roles leading on climate change.

‘COP26 President and climate change minister now deemed to be a junior ministerial issue.

‘Not a surprise from the former Chancellor who couldn’t bring himself to say ‘benefits of net zero’.’

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said: 'Rishi Sunak does not speak for the British people by refusing to take climate change seriously'

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said: ‘Rishi Sunak does not speak for the British people by refusing to take climate change seriously’

Green MP Caroline Lucas posted on Twitter: 'Shame on him' after No10 said Mr Sunak would not be attending Cop27

Green MP Caroline Lucas posted on Twitter: ‘Shame on him’ after No10 said Mr Sunak would not be attending Cop27

Mr Sunak’s predecessor as PM, Liz Truss, had been expected to travel to Cop-27 – although she was claimed to have objected to King Charles attending.

US President Joe Biden is also reportedly planning to attend.

The summit’s Egyptian organisers have claimed about 90 heads of state had so far confirmed their attendance.

The Red Sea gathering will come 12 months after the UK hosted the Cop-26 summit in Glasgow, which was attended by a string of Cabinet ministers – including Mr Sunak himself as Chancellor.

Confirming Mr Sunak won’t be attending this year’s follow-up summit, a No10 spokeswoman said: ‘The PM is not expected to attend Cop27 and this is due to other pressing domestic commitments including preparations for the Autumn budget.

‘The UK will be fully represented by other senior ministers as well as the Cop President Alok Sharma.’

Mr Sunak's predecessor as PM, Liz Truss, had been expected to travel to Cop-27 - although she was claimed to have objected to King Charles attending

Mr Sunak’s predecessor as PM, Liz Truss, had been expected to travel to Cop-27 – although she was claimed to have objected to King Charles attending

Elsewhere, despite the new plans to tackle climate change, oil giant Shell is still making huge profits.

On Thursday, Shell announced a soar in profits to £8.2 billion in just three months,  a move which has occurred due to a huge spike in oil prices, caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

This profit was more than double what it made during the same period the year before. 

But profits were down compared with what Shell had earned between April and June when it made £9.9bn ($11.5bn), as the price of oil slowly began to fall.

The war in Ukraine has seen energy prices skyrocket across Europe, contributing to a cost-of-living crisis in the UK, with millions of Britons facing a difficult winter. 

Shell announced profits of nearly £8.2bn ($9.5bn) between July and September, more than double what it made during the same period the year before

Shell announced profits of nearly £8.2bn ($9.5bn) between July and September, more than double what it made during the same period the year before

Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden said the company was 'delivering robust results at a time of ongoing volatility in the global energy market'

Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden said the company was ‘delivering robust results at a time of ongoing volatility in the global energy market’

Announcing the results, chief executive Ben van Beurden said: ‘We are delivering robust results at a time of ongoing volatility in the global energy market.

Shell is now nine months into what promises to be the company’s most profitable year ever, barring an unlikely major collapse in oil and gas prices over the next two months.

The business was already benefiting from a global economy that had reopened after the pandemic and was desperate for energy to fuel its growth.

Then Vladimir Putin waged an unprovoked war in Ukraine in February, pushing European gas prices to all-time highs and the price of oil soared internationally.

Rishi Sunak has faced calls on Thursday to expand the windfall tax on fossil fuel giants following the announcement. 

Climate activists and opposition MPs are urging the Prime Minister to go further on his windfall tax as oil and gas giants see profits soar over Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Downing Street said ‘nothing is off the table’ ahead of Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s autumn budget on November 17.

Shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband said Shell’s profits are ‘further proof that we need a proper windfall tax to make the energy companies pay their fair share’.

‘Rishi Sunak’s existing plans are a pale imitation of Labour’s windfall tax and would see billions of pounds of taxpayer money go back into the pockets of oil and gas giants through ludicrous tax breaks,’ he said.

‘It tells you everything you need to know about whose side this Conservative Government is on that they refuse to back Labour’s proper windfall tax whilst working people, families, and pensioners suffer.’

Shell yet to pay any extra windfall tax, bosses confirm

Shell has avoided paying extra windfall tax despite making record profits so far this year because it is investing heavily in the North Sea.

The oil giant said that it does not expect to pay any extra tax this year despite the Government’s decision in May to put a windfall tax on North Sea oil and gas producers.

Finance boss Sinead Gorman said Shell had done enough over recent months to avoid the levy – which encouraged tax relief in exchange for investment.

‘Heavy capex (capital expenditure) has meant that we haven’t had extra tax coming through in this quarter yet,’ she said.

‘I do expect to see that extra tax to happen quite early in the first quarter of 2023, but we’ll see what plays out with prices as well.’

She added: ‘We simply are investing more heavily than we have, and therefore we don’t have profits which we can be taxed against.’

Shell reported nearly £8.2bn ($9.5bn) profit in the third quarter, more than double what it made during the same period the year before. 

Windfall tax was introduced in May to rein in the astronomical profits of the oil and gas companies.

Some say it has not gone far enough. 

Shell boss Ben van Beurden said it was up to Government to decide whether the tax had succeeded.

‘In principle a tax system that incentivises people, rather than just taxes people, is a good design, whether it meets all the requirements of what a Government needs is for the Government to decide,’ he said.

On Thursday, Nadhim Zahawi did not rule out an additional windfall tax, but added it was important that companies still invest in the UK.

The Tory Party chairman said he would not ‘preempt any decisions’ ahead of the Autumn Statement next month.

The energy crisis led then-chancellor Rishi Sunak in May to introduce a windfall tax on oil and gas companies operating in the North Sea.

He announced the 25% surcharge on extraordinary profits to help pay for a package of support for households struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

His plans are due to lapse at the end of 2025 or sooner if oil and gas prices return to ‘historically more normal levels’, as Vladimir Putin’s invasion pushes up prices.

But that has not stopped Shell from handing billions of dollars to its shareholders this year.

On Thursday it announced plans to return a further £3.5bn ($4bn) to shareholders by buying back shares over the next three months, and said it will also increase the dividend by 15 per cent.

It takes the total payout to Shell shareholders to £22.4bn ($26bn) so far this year.

Mr van Beurden said: ‘We continue to strengthen Shell’s portfolio through disciplined investment and transform the company for a low-carbon future.

‘At the same time we are working closely with governments and customers to address their short- and long-term energy needs.’

Greenpeace yesterday called for a ‘proper tax’ on the energy giant’s profits, which it said could help insulate thousands of homes.

‘While Shell continues to bank billions, how many more households need to be forced into fuel poverty before the Government wakes up?

‘The only way to address the interlocking cost of living, energy security and climate crises is a street-by-street rollout of home insulation combined with a massive lift in ambition for renewable energy,’ the campaign group’s UK senior climate adviser, Charlie Kronick, said.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said: ‘The Conservative Government’s refusal to properly tax these eye-watering profits is an insult to families struggling to pay their energy bills.

‘Even the CEO of Shell has admitted that oil and gas companies should be taxed more to help protect vulnerable households.’

Asked on LBC radio on Frida about an extended windfall tax, Tory party chairman Nadhim Zahawi said that ‘absolutely the Chancellor and the Prime Minister will look at every decision’.

But he warned against creating ‘a tax system that disincentivises investment’.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘I am not going to get into tax measures ahead of a fiscal event.

‘It is accurate to say, as we made clear, no options are off the table given the economic circumstances. But clearly that is for the autumn statement.’

Mr Sunak does not believe the current levy has been hindering investment, the spokesman said.

Banks have also been enjoying bumper profits as they benefit from rising interest rates.

Downing Street did not rule out a windfall tax on them either, with the spokesman saying: ‘I haven’t asked the Prime Minister directly but broadly speaking hypothetical tax measures are for a fiscal event.’

Shell boss ‘regrets’ not acting earlier on the environment 

The chief executive of Shell has said he regrets not acting earlier to reduce his company’s environmental damage as he prepares to step down after nearly a decade in charge.

Ben van Beurden said that he should have acted in 2015 on data coming out of the Groningen gas field in the Netherlands.

‘There’s a few regrets, Mr Ben van Beurden told reporters.

‘Not in the sense that I made the wrong decisions, but more often that I made them perhaps – with the benefit of hindsight – a little bit too late,’ he said after Shell made the second-highest quarterly profits on record.

‘I wish that some of the things that we had as emerging insights in 2015 I had acted on earlier rather than waiting until 2017 to act on them,’ he said.

Shell and its partner Exxon reduced their production from the Dutch oil field in the 2010s, but it took a long time for them to recognise the danger caused by the earthquakes that it caused.

Van Beurden also spoke of points of pride, including lowering Shell’s own emissions by around one-third during his time in charge.

He also said that one-third of the top 100 staff at Shell are now women, compared with 17 per cent when he joined.

‘That might be another point of pride, the fact that we have been, and are still the leading company when it comes to carbon management in the industry,’ he said.

But Mr van Beurden said that he had not acted soon enough on Shell’s controversial drilling in the Arctic.

After spending around seven billion dollars (£6 billion) drilling off the coast of Alaska the company pulled out in 2015, citing high costs and poor results from drilling.

Mr van Beurden said: ‘Another thing I think is a regret is the Arctic. In the end, we went out of it, but with the benefit of hindsight I look back on it and think: Couldn’t I have done that earlier and faster?

‘So a mix of pride and regret – but I suppose that’s always the case after nine years.’



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