David toppled Goliath in a Dutch court on Wednesday when a judge ruled that oil giant Shell must sharply reduce its carbon emissions more quickly than planned.
The case was heard at The Hague in December 2020 and was brought by the local chapter of campaign group Friends of the Earth (Milieudefensie), along with six other organisations and 17,000 Dutch citizens.
At the time, the group said the goal was not to seek any form of compensation from the company but to force it to change its business model.
On 25 May, Royal Dutch Shell was ordered to reduce its CO2 emissions by 45% within 10 years.
But it only applies to the Netherlands.
Expect to appeal
Shell’s projects & technology director, Harry Brekelmans, commented: “We are disappointed that the court has upheld Milieudefensie’s claims and we expect to appeal against them.”
He continued: “Urgent action is needed on climate change which is why we have accelerated our efforts to become a net-zero emissions energy company by 2050, in step with society, with short-term targets to track our progress.
“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.”
Big oil is over?
Friends of the Earth said that the “historic verdict has enormous consequences for Shell and other big polluters, globally”.
Rachel Kennerley, climate campaigner for the England, Wales and Northern Ireland chapter, commented: “Anyone who thinks we should protect our one, previous planet and its people is jubilant today.
“The ruling confirms what we already knew, that global polluters cannot continue their devastating operations because the costs are too high, and they have been that way for too long.
“Today, an historic line has been drawn, no more spin, no more greenwashing, big oil is over. “The future is in clean renewables,” she added.
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