British oil and gas giant Shell has abandoned its key emissions reduction target for 2035 and watered down another net-zero goal for 2030, according to its new energy transition strategy for 2024, published on Thursday.

The company said it has “updated” its previous target to cut the total “net carbon intensity” of scope 3 emissions from its energy products by 20% by the end of the decade to between 15% and 20%. The company previously had another target to reduce the net carbon intensity of its energy products by 45% by 2035 – a goal that has now been entirely abandoned.

The energy transition strategy update is the first three-year review of the company’s energy transition plan, first published in 2021. Shell said the net carbon intensity will now fall more slowly than previously planned but maintains its goal to hit net-zero emissions by 2050, a goal set by previous CEO Ben van Beurden in 2020.

The company also introduced a new goal to cut “absolute emissions” of its oil products by 15–25% by 2030. According to the update, this would represent a 40% fall compared with 2016 levels, a level the European company says is compatible with the EU’s climate targets for transport.

The changes reflect plans by CEO Wael Sawan to tighten business operations and boost hydrocarbon production, particularly of natural gas, despite international calls for a complete fossil fuel phase out as the fight against climate change ramps up. Shell also plans to focus less on selling electricity, including from renewable sources.

The writing has been on the wall for some time regarding Sawan’s shift back towards oil and gas. In March last year, the CEO restructured Shell’s global renewable power business, eliminating the global role of executive vice-president for renewable generation and embedding all renewables generation within the company’s broader power business.

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Sawan also said last year in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that he “fundamentally believe[s] in the role of oil and gas for a long, long time to come”. He also said that he does not believe renewable and low-carbon projects should be subsidised by Shell’s fossil fuel profits, which hit record highs in 2022.

In Shell’s energy transition update, Sawan said he believes that a renewed focus on “performance, discipline and simplification… makes it more, not less, likely that we will achieve our climate targets”.