A Dutch court has ordered supermajor Shell to significantly slash its carbon emissions, setting the stage for potential lawsuits against other oil and gas companies and big polluters globally.
For the first time in history, a judge has held a corporation liable for causing dangerous climate change. As a result of legal action brought by Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie) together with 17,000 co-plaintiffs and six other organisations the court in The Hague ruled that Shell must reduce its CO2 emissions by 45% within 10 years.
Donald Pols, director of Friends of the Earth Netherlands said: “This is a monumental victory for our planet, for our children and a big leap towards a liveable future for everyone.The judge has left no room for doubt: Shell is causing dangerous climate change and must stop its destructive behaviour now.“
Roger Cox, lawyer for Friends of the Earth Netherlands, is also delighted: “This is a turning point in history. This case is unique because it is the first time a judge has ordered a large polluting corporation to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement. This ruling may also have major consequences for other big polluters.”
The ruling from the court in The Hague will have major ramifications internationally, said Sara Shaw from Friends of the Earth International: “This is a landslide victory for climate justice. Our hope is that this verdict will trigger a wave of climate litigation against big polluters, to force them to stop extracting and burning fossil fuels. This result is a win for communities in the global South who face devastating climate impacts now.”
Donald Pols concluded: “This verdict is an enormous step forward for the international climate movement. One of the world’s biggest polluters has finally been held responsible. I am filled with hope for the future, as we know that the climate crisis does not wait and does not stop at our borders. That is why it is so important that the judge is now forcing Shell to take responsibility for its actions. This is also a clear signal to the other big polluters must stop wrecking the climate.”
The Anglo-Dutch oil and gas giant is expected to appeal the decision.
“Urgent action is needed on climate change, which is why we have accelerated our efforts to become a net-zero emission energy company by 2050,” Shell declared in a written response. “We are investing billions of dollars in low-carbon energy, including electric vehicle charging, hydrogen, renewables and biofuels.” Furthermore, “We will continue to focus on these efforts and fully expect to appeal today’s disappointing court decision.”