In a groundbreaking court ruling, a Dutch court has ordered Royal Dutch Shell to slash emissions far more than it was planning.
As governments and corporations grapple with climate change, oil companies are in a difficult position. The oil industry has been one of the primary drivers for the current climate crisis, and companies have responded differently to the changing landscape. Some, such as Exxon, are going so far as to take a page out of Big Tobacco’s legal playbook in an effort to shift blame, downplay the danger and maximize profits as long as possible. Others, such as BP, are pivotingas fast as possible to renewable energy.
In the case of Shell, the company had already committed to cutting its carbon dioxide emissions 20% by 2030. A court in The Hague ruled that didn’t go far enough, and ordered the company to cut emissions by 45% in the same period.
Tears. of. joy. 🚨WE WON! 🚨
The Dutch court just ruled Shell must cut its CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030 (relative to 2019 levels).
— Friends of the Earth Europe🌍 (@foeeurope) May 26, 2021
Donald Pols, director of Friends of the Earth Netherlands, praised the decision: “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, added: “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.”
The ruling is sure to spark fear in other corporations, and open the door for litigation against companies that are not doing enough to abide by the Paris Climate Agreement.