Nature-based solutions

We are investing to protect and enhance natural ecosystems that capture CO₂ emissions, benefit local communities, and improve biodiversity. We use the carbon credits these projects generate to help customers decarbonise by compensating for their emissions.

Working with nature to remove and reduce CO2 emissions

Shell has set a target to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, in step with society’s progress in achieving the goal of the UN Paris Agreement on climate change.

We are transforming our business to meet our target: reducing emissions from our operations and providing more low-carbon energy, such as charging for electric vehicles, hydrogen and electricity generated by solar and wind power. We will also capture and store any remaining emissions using technology or balance them through nature-based projects.

To help us do that, we buy carbon credits generated by projects that protect nature and restore the environment. We also invest directly in natural ecosystems to increase the supply of carbon credits and help meet growing demand from customers.

When directly investing in projects we make long-term commitments, leveraging Shell’s scale to help realise nature’s potential in tackling climate change. We work closely with project developers, local communities, governments, NGOs, and other experts to ensure that we can make a difference.

"To tackle climate change the world needs every solution it can get, from more renewable energy such as wind and solar power to biofuels, electric vehicles and hydrogen. But we can also help nature to play a bigger role"

Ben van Beurden
Peru Amazon aerial view

What are nature-based solutions?

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) defines nature-based solutions as “actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural or modified ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits"1.

The IUCN has recognised nature-based solutions (NBS) as an important tool in addressing societal challenges, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and food security. And organisations such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have highlighted the role NBS can play in limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

At Shell, we’re investing in NBS through projects that work with ecosystems such as forests, grasslands, wetlands, and coastal zones, or projects that improve agricultural sustainability. These NBS projects absorb more CO2 or prevent the release of greenhouse gases, while also delivering benefits to local communities and biodiversity of the area.

Carbon credits are one of the mechanisms for investing in these NBS projects; each tonne of CO2 stored or avoided by a project generates one credit, which can be sold to help fund the project as it continues to protect, sustainably manage, or restore nature.


Benefits to climate, communities, and biodiversity

We believe that high-quality nature-based solutions are those that reduce or remove CO2 while also delivering benefits for communities and the natural environment.


Regenerating mangroves in Senegal

We have invested directly in the Sine-Saloum project in Senegal, where we are working with WeForest to regenerate around 4,775 hectares of mangroves as part of the world’s largest planned mangrove restoration project. The mangroves will also provide a sustainable habitat for numerous bird and fish species and provide nesting places for sea turtles and other endangered species such as the Atlantic humpback dolphin and African manatee. In 2021, we undertook an environmental-DNA study of the ecosystem to help establish a biodiversity baseline. This will help us understand the current state of biodiversity and enable the monitoring of improvements in the future.

The project is expected to generate up to 1.7 million credits by removing CO2 from the atmosphere as the mangroves grow.

Find out more about the project


Promoting sustainable farming in Zambia

COMACO is a social enterprise working with small-scale farmers in Zambia to train them in leading sustainable agriculture practices. We have invested directly in the project as it scales-up it’s work in a new location and with more farmers. By making farming more sustainable, planting trees, and establishing community conservation areas, COMACO is helping to increase incomes and improve food security for the communities that farm the land while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The project is working with independent standards bodies to certify the carbon reductions and removals in order to generate carbon credits in the future.

Find out more about the project

Ensuring projects make a difference

Respecting Nature is one of the pillars of Shell’s Powering Progress strategy. We made a commitment that the nature-based projects which protect, transform or restore land will be net positive for biodiversity from 2021.

Shell often works through partners to design and implement NBS projects and we choose our partners carefully to ensure their ways of working with communities align with ours. We also provide support to partners if we identify gaps. The community aspects of NBS projects include stakeholder engagement, understanding potential community impacts and opportunities, and designing interventions such as benefit sharing programs.

We validate our partners’ approach to ensuring that free, prior and informed consent from property rights holders is properly carried out before project activities start. We also evaluate the project’s grievance mechanism to ensure that it is in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights ‘access to remedy’ pillar, checking to see that issues that might come up can be resolved in a timely, fair, and transparent way. And we evaluate benefit sharing programs to make sure they respond to community needs in a fair, transparent and equitable way. We believe that each of these elements is critical to developing a sustainable and equitable NBS project.

To help deliver quality and integrity:

  • We select projects that are certified under credible and independent carbon credit standards.

    We only use carbon credits in our offers to customers if they have been issued by projects that are certified under an approved standard. These include the Verified Carbon Standard, Gold Standard and the American Carbon Registry. We do this to ensure that the carbon credits are real and verifiable, and that issues such as permanence, additionality, and leakage have been adequately considered.

  • We select projects that deliver wider benefits to the environment and local communities.

    We insist all our projects meet or exceed the threshold established by the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards or equivalent where applicable.


  • We work with project developers that can maintain appropriate health, safety, security and social governance standards.

    We expect the projects to have a net positive impact. Project developers we work with must ensure they employ the necessary standards and processes to mitigate against health, safety, security, and environment risks – including human rights violations – associated with their projects. We insist on this in our contracting, as well as through due diligence on project developers before we do business with them.

  • Our internal project screening review and management processes are audited by an independent third-party.

    Each year, we engage a third-party auditor to verify the integrity of the processes we use for screening our nature-based projects. A copy of the latest assurance statement can be found here.


Ensuring high-quality nature-based carbon credits

This is a fast-growing sector and all participants must work to promote quality and build societal confidence in NBS as a viable, additional lever for helping reach net-zero emissions. Shell continues to work with others to do this, including NGOs, certification standards bodies, academics, and communities, and revise and update our approach to quality as we do so.

We set out what we have learnt over the past years and the steps we take to ensure quality credits in our report, ‘Ensuring high-quality nature-based carbon credits.’

Read the report

Read more

Our climate target

In tackling climate change, the focus is increasingly on limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5° Celsius. Shell supports this ambition.