What will ex-Shell CEO do in his KKR Climate Advisor Role?

Former Shell CEO Ben van Beurden, who oversaw the company’s net-zero pledge, is confirmed as a climate strategy advisor to private equity investor KKR

Former Shell CEO Ben van Beurden has been recruited by alternative asset and private equity investor KKR to advise on its climate strategy.

The ex-boss of the global fuel giant has a part-time role at KKR, bringing his experience to the sphere of energy transition investments.

Ben spent 39 years at Shell, including nine years as CEO, a role he stepped down from in January 2023.

Leader of Shell’s net-zero plan

During his time, he oversaw Shell’s 2020 announcement that it is committed to achieve net zero in its operations by 2050.

He was also at the helm during the 2021 launch by the energy firm of its Powering Progress strategy, detailing how it will achieve its target by 2050 across Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, with initiatives including investing in renewable and clean energy solutions.

Commenting on the appointment in the FT, Brandon Freiman, Head of North American infrastructure at KKR, said: “He was the leader in driving Shell’s strategic transformation.

“He really led Shell’s work during his tenure as CEO on transitioning it across oil and gas, renewables, sustainable aviation and transportation.”

How is KKR ‘greening’ its investments?

In December 2023, KKR published a report that highlighted decarbonisation and the “brown-to-green” transition of asset-heavy sectors, as a key “mega-theme” driving investment opportunities.

In August 2023 it launched a global climate strategy team in its infrastructure unit, which the firm said marked an expansion on its focus on climate investing.

KKR is looking to invest in sectors that help drive the energy transition, including vehicle electrification, hydrogen consumption and battery systems.

According to the T, the group has invested US$15bn into the energy transition. This includes a US$750m investment in London-based EV charging network Zenobe.

A first for van Beurden

The new position is Ben’s first corporate role since retiring from the oil and gas major.

He has been quoted as saying: “The more I get exposed to private equity, the more that I believe that this is a really crucial part of the overall societal puzzle to get right.”

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