Andrew Brown, a director of international upstream operations at Royal Dutch Shell, said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph newspaper in London that European subsidies for a low-carbon economy were skewed.
"You have this ridiculous situation where cash-strapped Europe is putting a lot of money into renewables to reduce CO2, meanwhile allowing ... the power generators to take much more coal and back out gas," he told the newspaper.
European economies, he said, were burning more coal because the abundance of cheap natural gas was making coal-fired power generation less expensive.
The British newspaper reports that while coal-fired power is on the rise in the region, many of the most polluting plants in the United Kingdom are to be closed in the next few years.
Despite the enthusiasm over potential shale natural gas development in the region, however, Brown warned it won't be a game changer. Shale, however, could "play an important role in helping the U.K. with its energy security," he said.