The case could become a precedent in courts around the world, where similar lawsuits are multiplying

Donald Pols, director of MilieudefensiePIROSCHKA OF THE WOWREUTERS

The multinational Shell has a responsibility to the planet and the right to life of its inhabitants, and nothing exempts you from the opposite. A Dutch court ruling gives it until 2030 to achieve a net reduction of its CO2 emissions of 45% compared to its 2019 levels, that is, it must cut almost half of its activities that emit pollution into the atmosphere. .

“You must do your part to contribute to the fight against dangerous climate change.” This has been read by the judge in a historic sentence in the eyes of environmental organizations, especially for the Dutch subsidiary of Friends of the Earth (Milieudefensie), which led the case in the Netherlands against the multinational. The Shell group’s policy should now be aimed at reducing net CO2 emissions “strictly”, both its own and, indirectly, that of “its suppliers and customers”. Even if you decide to appeal, you should get down to business while the case continues.

The company acknowledges that “urgent action is needed” against climate change because it is a real danger, but has qualified as “disappointing“the ruling. It emphasizes that it wants to achieve zero net emissions in 2050, but differs with the speed required by the judge. Justice believes that the fact that governments decide the rules, as argued by Shell to defend itself, does not exempt companies of their direct and indirect responsibilities with human rights.

In its latest plans, Shell already said that it aims to reduce its CO2 emissions by at least 20% by 2030 and by 45% by 2035, but the Dutch court and the NGO Friends of the Earth believe it has the ability and the duty to accelerate those goals much further. “We have to investigate its impact,” Shell commented after hearing the sentence. He does not yet know what direct consequences the ruling will have on Shell’s way of working and its CO2-emitting activities.

This judicial victory of the climate organizations is also a precedent for those who want to take to court a company that, like Shell, emits significant levels of CO2 into the atmosphere. And not only in the Netherlands, but also in the rest of the world. “It is a revolutionary ruling” for Defense attorney Roger Cox. Still not believing his victory in court, he celebrated that the NGO has been able to “make a company change its policy” in the 80 countries where Shell is active. And take it for granted that you act accordingly.

The multinational company argued that society still needs fossil energy because there is no viable alternative, so if Shell does not give this fuel to citizens, other companies will. This reasoning of the company did not convince the judges because “the other companies must also reduce CO2 emissions” and Shell “together with suppliers and consumers, is responsible for enormous CO2 emissions, which are higher than those of many countries. including the Netherlands “.

The effects of climate change are far greater than those of reducing investment in projects involving fossil fuels. In areas where sea level rise could be a direct risk to physical integrity, for example, there is an attack on the human rights of society, such as “the right to a quiet family life”. The judge distinguishes between the emissions that Shell causes as a company and the emissions that result from the use of the fossil fuels it sells: the 45% reduction directly affects the company, which also has an “imperative obligation to do its best” when it is it is about what your customers broadcast.

Donald Pols, director of Friends of the Earth Netherlands, said after hearing the ruling that this case is “a monumental victory for our planet, our children and for all of us.” For the NGO, there is no doubt: “Shell is causing a climate change that is dangerous” and “must stop its destructive behavior immediately.” The recourse of the ruling does not save Shell: it must comply with the sentence immediately. The Paris Agreement has been signed since 2015 and global warming has exploded, so you must soon specify your plans and decide the effect of this failure on your business activity and ongoing projects in different countries. Because the climate emergency does not stop at the borders of the Netherlands.

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