The head of Royal Dutch Shell is urging his industry to spell out why the world needs it, as talks intensify on a global climate deal due to be signed this year.
In a speech on Thursday night at International Petroleum Week - one of the biggest events on the industry's calendar - Ben van Beurden, Shell's chief executive, is expected to say that big energy companies have not been assertive enough in the global warming debate and some need to take a critical look at themselves.
"In the past we thought it was better to keep a low profile on the issue. I understand that tactic but in the end it's not a good tactic," he will say, in a robust departure from the more muted statements senior energy executives normally make about climate change.
"Our industry should be less aloof, more assertive. We have to make sure that our voice is heard by members of government, by civil society and the general public."
His comments come as representatives of more than 190 countries meet in Geneva on Thursday to shape a negotiating text for a climate pact due to be signed in Paris in December.
Many environmental groups say a deal has been delayed by opposition from the energy industry.
Some envoys in Geneva insist that the text must include a firm deadline for phasing out carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels, which scientists say warm the atmosphere to potentially risky levels.
Mr van Beurden will say the industry must make the case that the world's energy needs will underpin the use of fossil fuels for decades to come, so instead of ruling them out there should be a focus on lowering carbon emissions.
Shell has long been in favour of a price on carbon and technologies to capture and store CO2 emissions, though its Arctic drilling efforts have also made it a large target of climate change campaigners.
In a mark of the growing tendency for oil and gas companies publicly to point the finger at coal producers, Mr van Beurden is due to argue on Thursday that the most important way to cut emissions is to shift from coal to natural gas. He says that when burnt for power, gas produces half the CO2 that coal does.
The tabular content relating to this article is not available to view. Apologies in advance for the inconvenience caused.>A number of coal producers, such as Peabody Energy in the US, have pointedly rejected what its executives have described as "alarmism" on the part of those trying to combat global warming.
But Mr van Beurden is expected to urge the energy industry to examine itself so its voice will be heard in the global warming debate.
"I'm well aware that the industry's credibility is an issue. Stereotypes that fail to see the benefits our industry brings to the world are short-sighted. But we must also take a critical look at ourselves," he will say.
"You cannot talk credibly about lowering emissions globally if, for example, you are slow to acknowledge climate change; if you undermine calls for an effective carbon price; and if you always descend into the 'jobs versus environment' argument in the public debate."
"Making our voice heard - this should be our goal in the run-up to Paris," the Shell chief will tell the meeting.
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