The Climate lawsuit against Shell
Both ENDS is co-plaintiff in the climate lawsuit being brought by Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth The Netherlands) against Shell to stop the company from causing harm to the climate. Shell has known about the severity of the climate problem for many years but continues with the climate-polluting extraction of oil and gas. By doing so, it undermines efforts to achieve the climate goals. Companies have a responsibility not to cause serious harm to society and the climate. Because Shell refuses to take that responsibility itself, we are taking the company to court. In brief, we demand that Shell has zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and adapts its activities to be fully aligned with the climate goals in the Paris Agreement.
Logical step for Both ENDS
It is a logical step for Both ENDS to be co-plaintiff as we have been working together with local environmental and other organisations in developing countries for many decades to combat the consequences of the activities of Shell and other fossil industry businesses for people around the world. We are not demanding compensation, but that Shell changes its course to help prevent climate change. We also hope that this case will lead to changes not only at Shell but also at other oil and gas companies that stand in the way of the energy transition.
Both ENDS’ added value over most of the other co-plaintiffs lies mainly in the link between global climate change, its impact on nature and the environment worldwide and its unprecedented impact on poor people in poor countries. We connect climate change to the Netherlands’ goals for combatting poverty around the world, such as the Sustainable Development Goals.
Pollution, destruction and climate change
A company such as Shell harms people in the countries where it is active in two ways. Firstly the consequences of climate change, to which the use of Shell’s products makes a significant contribution, disproportionately affect people in developing countries. Secondly the extraction of fossil fuels destroys ecosystems on a large scale, which not only causes more climate change but also seriously erodes the livelihoods of local populations: water sources become polluted and agriculture or fishing encounter severe obstacles. Our decision to become co-plaintiffs in this case is therefore based on our duty towards all people who suffer the impact of climate change on a daily basis.
Investing in fossil fuels is short-term thinking
Climate change and climate policy have always been and continue to be a major theme in our work, primarily because we focus mainly on the poorest and most vulnerable groups in countries in the global South. They suffer most from the consequences of climate change, while they have contributed to it the least. It has been agreed worldwide that emissions of CO2 must be reduced radically to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees. The main condition for achieving that is to prevent new emissions from greenhouse gasses by keeping fossil reserves ’under the ground’. To stay on track with the Paris Agreement, it is therefore very irresponsible to continue extracting and exploiting new oil and gas fields and building the required infrastructure, as Shell continues to do. And yet Shell persuades the governments of countries with fossil reserves to invest in this sector. As these investments cannot be recovered if we want to take climate goals seriously, investing in sustainable energy should get the highest priority.
Invest in renewable instead of fossil energy
In Mozambique and Tanzania, both extremely poor countries, Shell is involved in developing one of the largest gas fields in the world for the international market. The poorest groups are affected the most by these projects; their local environment is being destroyed and the land and water polluted, they are often forced to relocate and do not share in the gas profits with which Shell tempts their governments. By continuing to invest in the fossil sector rather than in sustainable energy, these countries risk becoming highly dependent on export to foreign countries and lagging behind in their own development.
In the 30 years during which, together with partner organisations around the whole world, we have fought for climate action, we have seen that nothing has changed in the daily practice of the fossil industry. Even worse, the sector has done everything possible to prevent positive changes. There are very few restrictions on the fossil fuel sector searching for new oil and gas fields and it can make use of a wide variety of financial and other government support without having to account for its role in global warming. In the meantime increasingly large groups of people are suffering the consequences of rising global temperatures so much that they can hardly lead their lives. In our opinion, therefore, taking legal action is necessary to compel companies such as Shell to take real action and we are pleased to be co-plaintiff in this case.
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In 2011 one of the world’s largest gas reserves was found in the coastal province of Cabo Delgado, in the north of Mozambique. A total of 35 billion dollars has been invested to extract the gas. Dozens of multinationals and financiers are involved in these rapid developments. It is very difficult for the people living in Cabo Delgado to exert influence on the plans and activities, while they experience the negative consequences. With the arrival of these companies, they are losing their land.
Pension funds have a lot of influence because of their enormous assets. Both ENDS therefore wants pension funds such as the Dutch ABP to withdraw their investments from the fossil industry and to invest sustainably instead.
In 2015, the member states of the United Nations committed themselves to the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Unlike their predecessors, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the SDGs recognise the importance of equality within and between countries, of decision-making processes in which all people are included and heard, and of legal systems that are independent and accessible to all.
Almost two-thirds of the export credit insurances that Atradius DSB provided in the 2012-2018 period went to the fossil energy sector. That is contrary to the climate agreements that the Netherlands signed in Paris.
News / 21 December 2021
In Ghana, the effects of climate change are already tangible, just like in many countries around the world. How to ensure that these different experiences are heard and known by the Ghanaian government so that it will take actions that have a positive effect on people and their environment? And how to make local communities aware that they can hold the government accountable - and even have the responsibility to do so? During COP26 in Glasgow we spoke with Kenneth Nana Amoateng (47) and Richard Matey (30). Kenneth works at the AbibiNsroma Foundation, a local NGO, and took it as his mission to advocate for a healthy environment, climate change, and to give young people opportunities. Richard is part of that younger generation and works at the Alliance for Empowering Rural Communities in Ghana.
News / 22 November 2021
Export support – and especially that to fossil projects – has been in the spotlights quite often recently. This is a positive development, because the Netherlands alone provides fossil export support worth 1.5 billion euros per year. At the climate summit in Glasgow, the United Kingdom launched a statement promising to stop providing export support to fossil projects by the end of 2022. After having denied at first, the Netherlands decided to join the statement after all – which now has already been signed by nearly forty countries and financial institutions.
External link / 17 November 2021
Julio Bichehe Erneste of Farmers Union Cabo Delgado Mozambique (UPC) on a side event of COP26 in Glasgow, speaking about the negative impacts of export support for fossil fuel projects for local people and their enrironment, and about the need to support renewable energy projects instead.
News / 8 November 2021
Today, the Netherlands announced that it will join a leading group of countries, including the United States, Canada and Italy, which declared that they would stop international support for fossil energy projects. At the day of the launch of the declaration at the climate summit in Glasgow on the 4th of November, the Netherlands had no intention of joining, but because of pressure from civil society and political parties, the responsible ministries decided to sign after all. Both ENDS, together with organizations at home and abroad, has been pushing for this for years, and we are very happy with this step. We will of course continue to monitor developments.
Event / 6 November 2021, 13:00 - 15:00
This Saturday, November 6, people all over the world will take to the streets again to make a stand for the climate. In the Netherlands, the Climate March will take place in Amsterdam, and of course Both ENDS will join. We call on everyone who is concerned about the climate, to walk along with thousands of like-minded people and make this the largest Climate March in history!
Event / 4 November 2021, 16:45 - 18:00
UNFCCC COP 26 side event ‘Aligning export finance with the Paris Agreement: high time to phase out fossil fuels’
Many countries heavily support fossil fuel investments abroad through their export credit agency (ECA). This contributes to carbon lock- in, whereby companies or even countries commit themselves to a certain amount of greenhouse gas emissions for the lifetime of the infrastructure — oftentimes years or even decades. This seriously delays the transition to renewable energy sources, and is certainly not in line with Art. 2.1c of the Paris Agreement.
Highlighting the impacts caused by export finance in the global South, this side event will provide concrete recommendations to decarbonize export credit agencies.
External link / 31 October 2021
In this short video, Niels Hazekamp of Both ENDS talks about how the Netherlands stimulates projects related to the fossil sector abroad through its export credit agency (ECA) Atradius DSB. The ECA provides export credit insurance for very large-scale and high-risk activities abroad. About two thirds of this export support (worth around 1.5 billion euros per year) is going to the fossil fuel sector. Absurd, at a time when the whole world has to make the transition to sustainable energy. Our country should not support the fossil, but the renewable energy sector with such guarantees, and grab that chance of 1.5 billion!
Press release / 26 October 2021
Today, on the eve of the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, the fossil fuel divest-invest movement released a new report that details how institutions representing an unprecedented total of EUR 33.7 trillion worth of assets have now committed to some form of fossil fuel divestment, a figure that's higher than the annual GDP of the United States and China combined.
Publication / 26 October 2021
News / 24 October 2021
On Friday October 22nd, six staff members of our partner organisation Africa Institute of Energy Governance (AFIEGO), including its director Dickens Kamugisha, were arrested in Kampala, Uganda. AFIEGO is one of four Ugandan organisations involved in several legal cases against the oil project, including the one against TotalEnergies in France and in the East African Court of Justice.
News / 15 October 2021
The Dutch export credit agency Atradius DSB is not aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement; on behalf of the Dutch State, it continues to strongly support investments in fossil fuels. This is the conclusion of a report by German research agency Perspectives Climate Research (PCR), in which the export credit agencies of the Netherlands and Japan are measured in terms of their climate ambitions and alignment with the Paris Agreement.
Press release / 11 October 2021
New website shines a light on the extent of export credit agencies' support for fossil fuels
Each year governments provide tens of billions of dollars in financial support to fossil fuel projects via export credit agencies (ECAs). Today, 18 civil society groups from 14 countries are launching a new website to shine a spotlight on how ECAs are undermining global climate goals. In advance of the November UN climate conference, the organisations are calling on governments around the world to end public financial support for coal, oil and gas projects, including support from ECAs. Ending this support and redirecting financial resources to sustainable alternatives is essential for a just energy transition.
News / 13 July 2021
The government provides an average of 1.5 billion euros a year in export support for fossil projects by Dutch companies, in the form of insurance and guarantees. The climate crisis requires that the Netherlands and other countries stop providing export support for fossil energy projects, whether it be coal, oil or gas, before the end of this year.
News / 12 July 2021
At the beginning of this year, the Dutch government provided Dutch companies with export insurance worth 903 million euros to enable them to participate in a gigantic natural gas project in the north of Mozambique. Together with partners from Mozambique and the Netherlands, Both ENDS has been conducting a dialogue with export credit agency Atradius DSB and the responsible Ministries of Finance and Foreign Affairs on the possible financial, environmental and social risks of the gas project.
Press release / 8 July 2021
Civil society organisations send urgent letter on climate to financial sector
Amsterdam, 8 July 2021 – The Shell ruling has consequences for the financiers of major climate polluters. That is the message in a letter from a number of civil society organisations, including Oxfam Novib, Eerlijke Geldwijzer, Milieudefensie, Greenpeace and Both ENDS, to the biggest banks, pension funds and insurance companies in the Netherlands. In the letter, they call on the financial institutions to reduce CO2 emissions from loans and investments in line with the 1.5 degrees goal laid down in the Paris climate agreement.
News / 4 June 2021
FMO's new position statement on fossil fuel investments commits to ending new direct finance in the downstream and midstream coal and oil sectors, whilst still allowing for investments in gas-fired electricity generation under exceptional circumstances only. Both ENDS welcomes this development as a step in the right direction.