A Dutch court has ruled that Shell must reduce its CO2 emissions by 45 per cent within 10 years. It comes as a result of legal action brought by Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie) together with 17,000 co-plaintiffs and six other organisations,
Judge Larisa Alwin read out a ruling at a court room in The Hague, saying “the court orders Royal Dutch Shell, by means of its corporate policy, to reduce its CO2 emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 with respect to the level of 2019 for the Shell group and the suppliers and customers of the group”.
Currently, Shell has a target to become 100 per cent carbon neutral by 2050, with carbon intensity targets until then being a reduction by 20 per cent by 2030 and by 45 per cent by 2035. The court ruling means Shell must accelerate its emissions reduction target by four years.
Following the verdict, Shell said urgent action is needed on climate change which is why the company has accelerated its efforts to become a net-zero emissions energy company by 2050.
“We are investing billions of dollars in low-carbon energy, including electric vehicle charging, hydrogen, renewables and biofuels. We want to grow demand for these products and scale up our new energy businesses even more quickly.
“We will continue to focus on these efforts and fully expect to appeal today’s disappointing court decision.”
Friends of the Earth Netherlands said the judge 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, said the ruling 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.”
Sam Cossar from Friends of the Earth Australia said it will impact Shell’s operations globally, including in Australia by requiring the business to be in line with global carbon targets.
“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.”
Important milestones on Shell’s journey so far to become a net-zero energy company include:
- In 2021 it became the first energy company to offer investors an advisory vote on the energy transition strategy.
- In 2020, Shell announced a target to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050. This target is comprehensive, because it includes our Shell’s own emissions, as well as emissions from its customers’ use of all Shell’s energy products.
- In 2019, Shell published the first Industry Associations Climate Review, which reviewed the alignment between its climate-related policy positions and those of 19 key industry associations of which Shell is a member.
- In 2019 Shell was the first major energy company to connect executive pay to its target to reduce its Net Carbon Footprint.
- In 2017, Shell announced its ambition to reduce the carbon intensity of the energy products it sells. Crucially, this included the full life-cycle emissions from the use of the company’s energy products by customers.