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 / 10 November 2020
The Dutch development bank FMO has published a statement about fossil fuels to take steps in climate action. Both ENDS and partners are pleased that FMO is finally taking a stand regarding fossil fuels, but in our opinion it could be more ambitious. In order to really contribute to sustainability and equality, it is essential that development banks stop investing in harmful fossil projects.
News / 21 July 2020
At the end of last week, oil and gas company Total announced that, through its export credit insurer Atradius DSB, the Dutch government is participating in a funding package for a controversial gas extraction project in Mozambique. The project, in which various Dutch and foreign companies are involved, is having a deep impact on the local population and the natural environment in the area. Which Dutch companies the government will be insuring is not yet clear.
News / 30 June 2020
Almost 40 civil society organisations and networks from around the world, including Both ENDS, today sent a letter to Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag and State Secretary for Finance Hans Vijlbrief. They are asking the ministers to ensure that the expansion of export credit insurance as a result of the Corona crisis contributes to a green recovery.
Press release / 22 June 2020
Amsterdam, Copenhagen 22 June 2020 – In these times of increasing climate crisis, corporate social responsibility also means that investments in fossil gas must be phased out as quickly as possible. In a world in which a maximum temperature rise of 1.5 Celsius is the norm, fossil gas cannot be a 'transition fuel' towards sustainable energy. This is the message from five European environmental organisations (Both ENDS, the Danish AnsvarligFremtid, Fossil Free Sweden, Fossil Free Berlin and the Italian Re:Common) to pension funds in their countries that still invest in fossil gas companies. They are promoting that message with a new campaign called "Gas Free Pensions", which is being launched today.
External link / 19 June 2020
"If it is the fossil fuel-based ‘real economy’ that is driving us toward catastrophic climate change, it is the financial world behind the steering wheel." Therefore in 2019, Both ENDS worked towards fossil free investments by both individuals and public institutions such as the European Investment Bank (EIB).
News / 19 May 2020
Communities in the Niger Delta have been affected by air and water pollution due to Shell's activities for decades. This year, at Royal Dutch Shell's annual meeting, Kebetkache Women's Resource and Development Centre held Shell accountable for the consequences of their activities. Clean-up of oil spillages and ending gas flaring is becoming even more urgent in the fight against COVID-19, in which clean water is crucial to prevent the spread of the virus.
Press release / 6 May 2020
The value of ABP's pension fund investments in fossil fuel companies has fallen by 44% from end of last year to its lowest point on March 16 this year, while the value of the rest of the portfolio decreased by 26%. This impact can be seen in simulations based on the publicly available equity portfolios of Dutch pension funds ABP and Zorg en Welzijn (PFZW), carried out by research agency Profundo on behalf of Both ENDS. The simulations show that the risks of investing in the fossil fuel sector are increasing.
News / 2 February 2020
The world has to stop using fossil fuels, but investment in the sector continues unabated. Investors of all kinds, including banks, insurance companies and pension funds, are hesitant about making the change to sustainable energy and are not sure where to start. In the autumn of 2019, together with the DivestInvest Network and Sustainable Energy (Denmark), Both ENDS published a report entitled ‘Managed Decline of Fossil Fuel Businesses’. The report describes five criteria to test whether companies in the fossil sector are actively taking steps to wind down their fossil activities. The criteria are helping investors to choose investments that are in line with the Paris goal of restricting global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius. We spoke to Lars Jensen, Senior Analyst at Sustainable Energy and lead author of the report.
News / 18 November 2019
Good news for the climate: last week, the European Investment Bank (EIB) decided to stop investing in fossil fuels by 2021. This is part of its new energy strategy.
Press release / 18 November 2019
The Netherlands provides export credit insurances and guarantees worth 1.5 billion euros annually to Dutch companies active in the oil and gas sector abroad. This support amounts to one and a half times the annual amount that the Cabinet of Prime Minister Rutte mobilises for climate initiatives worldwide. The intended effects of Dutch international climate policy are more than offset by this fossil export support. That is the conclusion of a new report from Both ENDS which is published today.
Publication / 17 November 2019
News / 8 November 2019
On Thursday November 7th, a group of European NGO's including Both ENDS, sent a letter to Vice-President of the EU Frans Timmermans, in which they ask him to support the phase out of European Investment Bank’s fossil fuel financing by the end of 2020.
Press release / 23 September 2019
Amsterdam, 23 September 2019 - The world's 5th largest pension fund, with assets of over €430 billion, Dutch ABP is continuing to invest in companies that are on a collision course with the Paris climate goals, such as coal and oil companies.
Publication / 23 September 2019
Event / 20 September 2019, 19:30
Last June, after months of negotiations in five different 'climate roundtables', the Dutch government presented its Climate Agreement . Negotiations had taken place in a roundtable for 'industry', for 'built environment', for 'electricity', 'mobility' and for 'agriculture and land use'. Climate measures that the Netherlands can take within its borders are pretty much covered by these climate roundtables. But the Netherlands also has a huge climate footprint outside its borders. It seems we have forgotten about the 'International' Climate Roundtable.
Blog / 19 September 2019
Reward high-risk international business projects investing in a green future and stop support for the international fossil industry
The climate is 'hot'. Everyone is talking about it. 'Everyone needs to do something' calls the government in its recently started public campaign. Good plan. Let's really do something. For a start, we can stop supporting international trade in fossil energy by our own multinationals. That would free up 1.5 billion euros which we could use to combat climate change on an international scale and at the same time give our own innovative businesses a boost. Today's Vergeten Klimaattafel (Forgotten Climate Roundtable) will discuss the opportunities for the Netherlands to have a real impact. And those opportunities are enormous. Because our big money and our influence lie beyond our borders.