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Shell lobbied World Bank to drop coal

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Shell has revealed it lobbied the World Bank to halt funding coal-fired plants before the firm announced it would cut lending to the coal sector.

Shell's head of gas, Maarten Wetselaar, made the revelations yesterday, stating that the company formed a department whose sole purpose was to lobby governments and funding bodies to look to gas as a power source over coal.

Wetselaar said climate change had pushed Shell to convince entities to increase the sale of gas in the global market, The Australian reported.

"We found out most coal plants get their funding started by using the bilateral funding agencies, such as the World Bank, so we were talking to them about the impact their policies have on the energy mix of the world," Wetselaar said.

In July the World Bank announced it would cut coal from its portfolio of investment projects.

New coal powered generation will now receive financial support only in “rare circumstances” it said.

"You never know how much your own advocacy has played a role in that but we actively influence the space," Wetselaar said.

"We've been very active in Korea, where they had a coal subsidy stemming back to the days where people burned coal in their homes to cook. Only last week were coal and gas put on an even keel in terms of taxation."

Shell said the increased use of gas is the only way the world can meet future energy demands which are expected to double between now and 2050.

A spokesman for the Minerals Council of Australia said the move by Shell was not in the best interests of Australia.

"It is not in the world's interests -- especially the world's poor -- to be attempting to limit the available sources of electricity," he said.

"We should be working together to meet the world's energy needs, as no single source of power can ever hope to meet future demand for electricity."

The move comes as Shell invests billions of dollars into LNG projects in Australia and overseas.

Shell’s floating LNG project is worth $12 billion, while it also has stakes in the Sunrise LNG project and the Chevron-operated Wheatstone project.

"With the opportunities that we see in Australia, we are very pleased with what we have," Shell's project and technology director Matthias Bichsel said.

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