The Hague – A Dutch court on Wednesday ordered Royal Dutch Shell to significantly deepen the planned greenhouse gas emissions savings. This could pave the way for legal action against energy companies around the world.
The climate lawsuit, filed by seven groups including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth Netherlands, is a first where environmentalists have turned to the courts in an attempt to force a large energy company to change its strategy.
In a courtroom in The Hague, Judge Larisa Alwin read a ruling instructing Shell to cut CO2 emissions to warm the planet by 45 percent by 2019 compared to 2019.
Shell’s current goal is to reduce the carbon intensity of its products by at least 20 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050 compared to 2016.
The court said Shell’s climate policy was “not specific and fraught with conditions … that’s not enough”.
“The conclusion of the court is therefore that Shell is in danger of violating its obligation to reduce and the court will therefore issue an order,” said Alwin.
The lawsuit was filed in April 2019 on behalf of more than 17,000 Dutch citizens alleging Shell is threatening their human rights as billions continue to be invested in fossil fuel production.
“This is a great win for us and for everyone affected by climate change,” Donald Pols, director of Friends of the Earth Netherlands, told Reuters.
“It’s historic, it’s the first time a court has ruled that a major polluter needs to cut emissions,” added Pols after the ruling, which Shell can appeal.
A rapid reduction in emissions would effectively force the Anglo-Dutch company to move away from oil and gas products quickly.
Shell, which plans to reach zero net carbon emissions by 2050 or earlier, has said legal proceedings will not accelerate the global transition from fossil fuels.
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Shell, the world’s leading oil and gas trader, announced that its carbon emissions peaked in 2018. However, intensity-based reduction targets theoretically enable him to increase his oil and gas production.
Plaintiffs allege Shell’s climate strategy is inconsistent with the United States-backed Paris Agreement of 2015, which seeks to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
According to Shell, the net zero target for 2050 is in line with the Paris Agreement and will move “in step” with society’s progress in the energy transition.
A statement prior to the ruling said it agreed “that action against climate change is needed now. What will accelerate the energy transition is effective policies, investments in technology and a change in customer behavior. None of which will address this legal action.” reached.” “”