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The CEO of Shell received a salary of £8 million in 2023, coinciding with the oil and gas conglomerate’s decision to dilute one of its climate commitments.

New figures released on Thursday show that the CEO of Shell received a total compensation package of nearly £8 million last year, amid a backdrop of the oil and gas giant softening one of its climate commitments.

Wael Sawan, the current CEO, was granted a pay package totaling £7.94 million, a decrease from his predecessor Ben van Beurden’s £9.7 million in 2022, although it exceeded Mr. van Beurden’s earnings for 2021.

Mr. Sawan’s compensation comprised a base salary of £1.4 million, an annual bonus of £2.7 million, and a long-term incentive payment of £2.6 million.

Critics argue that his salary, estimated to be 227 times higher than the average worker’s earnings, would be difficult for many facing the challenges of high energy costs to accept.

In addition to the CEO’s compensation, Shell adjusted one of its climate targets, indicating a shift in focus towards “value over volume” in the electricity sector.

The company now aims to reduce the “net carbon intensity” of its energy products by 15-20% by 2030, a revision from its previous target of 20%. This target is benchmarked against 2016.

The rationale behind this adjustment is Shell’s intent to prioritize selling electricity to business customers rather than households, thereby slowing the anticipated growth in electricity sales and consequently the rate at which carbon intensity can be reduced.

Jonathan Noronha-Gant, senior fossil fuels campaigner at Global Witness, criticized Shell’s CEO pay package, stating that while energy executives profit from oil and gas, many struggle to afford basic necessities. He emphasized the need for politicians to prioritize people over polluters.

Last week, BP, another UK-based energy giant, disclosed that its new CEO was paid over £8 million in the previous financial year before assuming the top role permanently.

Murray Auchincloss received a compensation package consisting of salary, benefits, bonuses, and shares linked to performance. Auchincloss, who served as chief financial officer for most of 2023 before assuming the interim CEO position, was compensated accordingly.

Meanwhile, Shell announced a new goal to reduce emissions resulting from the use of its oil products by customers by 15-20% by 2030 compared to 2021, aligning with so-called Scope 3 emissions.

Earlier reports revealed that major energy companies operating in the UK amassed significant profits in 2023, drawing criticism amid widespread financial struggles for many consumers. Shell, Equinor, ExxonMobil, and BP collectively generated £65 billion in net profits, prompting accusations of exacerbating the energy cost crisis.

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