In a historic verdict with enormous consequences for all big polluters globally, a court in The Hague has ruled that Shell must reduce its CO2 emissions by 45% within 10 years.
Historical first as judge golds a corporation liable for causing dangerous climate change
For the first time in history, a judge has held a corporation liable for causing dangerous climate change. On Wednesday 26 May 2021, 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. This historic verdict has enormous consequences for Shell and other big polluters globally.
Ruling from the The Hague court will have major international ramifications
The co-plaintiffs in the legal action are: Action Aid Netherlands, Both ENDS, Fossil Free Netherlands, Greenpeace Netherlands, Young Friends of The Earth Netherlands and the Wadden Sea Association (Waddenvereniging) and more than 17000 Dutch citizens.
Donald Pols, director of Friends of the Earth Netherlands: "This is a monumental victory for our planet, for our children and is a stop 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 company to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement. This ruling may also have major consequences for other big polluters."
Sara Shaw from Friends of the Earth International: "This is a landmark 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.”
The ruling from the court in The Hague will have major ramifications internationally.
Main points from the verdict:
- Royal Dutch Shell must reduce its emissions by 45% net by the end of 2030.
- Shell is also responsible for emissions from customers (scope 3) and suppliers.
- There is a threat of human rights violations to the ‘right to life’ and ‘undisturbed family life’.
- Shell must comply with the judgment immediately, because Shell’s current climate policy is not concrete enough.
Donald Pols concludes: "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 the judge is now forcing Shell to take responsibility for its actions. This is also a clear signal to the other big polluters that they also have to act now .
The proactive Dutch simply will not wait for the situation to fix itself
Last year, in a counterintuitive ploy to make “Big Oil” change their ways, another Dutchman, climate activist Mark van Baal, realised that by becoming shareholders in big oil and gas companies, ordinary citizens can change policy from within and actually compel major polluters to fight climate change by putting their brains and billions behind renewable energy. Read more about that fascinating win for the environment and people-power here.
Proactive Dutch NGOs and citizens are leading the way to get Government and polluting companies to change course to fight Climate change, as only 1,5 years ago Dutch citizens won court cases to force the Dutch government to do take more drastic measures. Read more about those stories here.
SUPPORT THE ‘FOLLOW THIS’ CLIMATE RESOLUTION
Investor support for the Follow This climate resolution (21) rose to 30%, more than doubling since 14% of shareholders supported it in 2020, and defying management advice to vote against. The resolution asked, again, for truly Paris Aligned emissions reduction targets, and for Shell to shift its investments towards renewables. Click to learn more and add your support.