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At energy summit, climate pits U.S. against Europe


By Ron Bousso

(Reuters) - The U.S. secretary blasted renewable fuels champions on Wednesday while the of urged the sector to focus on world efforts to cut carbon emissions, revealing a yawning trans-Atlantic gap on climate issues.

Speaking at the CERAWeek conference by in Houston, outlined an ambitious plan to reduce the Anglo-Dutch company's carbon footprint and expand in renewables, and called on others to follow.

"The landscape is changing fast. So we must change, where change is what the world needs," van Beurden said.

He spoke after U.S. struck a starkly different tone, blasting the 2015 Climate Agreement to limit global warming. Perry said it was "immoral" to say people should live without fossil fuels.

"We are passionate about But the world, especially developing economies, will continue to need fossil fuels, as over a billion people on the planet live without access to electricity," Perry said.

The United States, under former Barack Obama, helped negotiate the agreement which calls for a gradual shift to by the end of the century. decided to withdraw last year.

Van Beurden gave an unusually strong-worded speech calling climate the biggest challenge facing the

"There may not be total unity behind the Agreement any longer, but there is no other issue with the potential to disrupt our industry on such a deep and fundamental level."

Perry extolled growing U.S. energy independence, as a boom in onshore shale drilling led to a rapid growth in as well as natural gas, the least polluting

The rise of gas at the expense of dirtier coal helped the world's biggest sharply reduce its carbon emissions over the last decade, as gas displaced much domestic coal demand.

"The lesson is clear (that) we don't have to choose between growing our and caring for our environment, by embracing innovation over regulation we can benefit from both," Perry said.

and European peers including BP, France's Total and Norway's are becoming increasingly active in and are vocal supporters of the Paris agreement. Until recently, climate has been less prominent in strategy presentations from U.S. rivals and

Executives at the conference repeatedly noted growing demand for fossil fuels, and downplayed the overall viability of or electric vehicles, noting emissions would continue to rise even if there was 100 percent adoption of EVs.

On Wednesday, Mary Barra, of General Motors, said the company's "commitment to an all-electric, zero-emissions future is unwavering, regardless of any modifications to future fuel standards."

Other executives spoke of moving to carbon and carbon taxes. Robert Dudley, of BP, said Tuesday that "at some point in the future a price on carbon has to be part of this answer."

The projected growth of demand is "definitely not in line with the Paris climate goals," said International Energy Agency Fatih Birol, saying the industry must start using carbon capture sequestration (CCS) technologies.

In on Wednesday, echoed Perry's words at the company's investor day, noting developing to generate more

Like others, Woods said Exxon advocates a to limit emissions.

"By and large, we don't see enough incentives to grow CCS in the marketplace," Peter Trelenberg, Exxon's manager of environmental policy & planning, said.

Few in were as emphatic as van Beurden, who outlined how Shell is moving to meet its targets to halve carbon emissions by 2050. Steps include limiting emissions from operations and boosting production to reach 75 percent of company and gas output.

"Over time, this net carbon footprint ambition will transform our company's product mix," van Beurden said.

(Reporting By Ron Bousso; additional reporting by in New York; Writing by and Ron Bousso; Editing by David Gregorio)

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, March 08 2018. 18:46 IST