Identifying a tipping point is not always easy. But when one of the world’s most powerful oil bosses says he is in the market for an electric car, there can be little doubt.
Ben van Beurden, the Royal Dutch Shell boss, last week delivered the clearest indication yet that the burgeoning electric vehicle industry is already hastening the decline of global oil demand.
“When that will be is not certain. But that it will happen, we are certain,”
he told investors.
It was not so much a foil to the group trebling second quarter profits as a statement of intent: for “Big Oil” it is time to adapt or die, and Shell intends to adapt.
The Anglo-Dutch giant is already shifting its focus from drilling for oil to natural gas, but within the next year Shell will unveil early plans for a deeper presence in renewable energy and the electrical chain to tap the boom in electric vehicles.
“Everyone is repeatedly surprised at how fast electric cars are coming forward,”
Professor Dieter Helm told The Telegraph in April. The number of new registrations of plug-in cars has grown from 3,500 in 2013 to more than 100,000 at the end of May.
“But the political pressure to adopt this technology is increasing all the time. It’s not due to concerns over climate change – it’s city air pollution,”
And so it was in the UK last week when the Government’s bid to tackle the country’s worsening air pollution followed the example set by France two weeks earlier in pledging to halt the sale of combustion vehicles by 2040. At the same time, government put the battery boom front and centre in its industrial strategy with £246m of funding for research and development.
Read more: The Telegraph