Climate case against Shell is particularly crucial for the Global South
Next week, the climate case brought against Royal Dutch Shell by Dutch environmental organisation Milieudefensie is due to start. Milieudefensie hopes to force the company to stop causing dangerous climate change and adopt a more sustainable course. Six Dutch organisations have decided to become co-plaintiffs in the case. They include ActionAid and Both ENDS, organisations that work outside the Netherlands on human rights, gender equality, environment and sustainable development. Though, at first glance, the case may not seem relevant to them, nothing is farther from the truth, as Nils Mollema of ActionAid and Niels Hazekamp of Both ENDS explain.
"As organisations that work to promote human rights, gender equality, the environment and sustainable development, it is logical for ActionAid and Both ENDS to be co-plaintiffs in this case," says Mollema. "We have been working for decades – together with local organisations in developing countries – on combating the effects of climate change, to which Shell contributes. So deciding to be co-plaintiffs ties in very closely with our work. We defend all those people who have made little or no contribution to climate change but who suffer the consequences directly."
What does Shell have to do with climate change in other countries?
"Shell may have its headquarters in the Netherlands, but it operates on a global scale," says Hazekamp. "And the climate changes caused by how Shell's products are manufactured and used do not respect national borders. The damage caused by climate change cancels out much of the development achieved in countries like Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and many others."
"Take Hurricane Idai, which raged across Mozambique in March 2019," says Mollema. "The damage it caused was far more than the whole country earns in a whole year! As a result of climate change, such events have unfortunately become more frequent. At ActionAid and Both ENDS, we see that socially deprived groups like indigenous people and women are generally affected earlier and more severely by climate change. Indigenous people because they are often completely dependent on the natural environment for their survival. And women because, in areas like Mozambique that are hardest hit by climate change, they are often responsible for feeding their families. That means they are dependent on the availability of fertile land and sufficient clean drinking water. Severe drought, flooding or salinisation of the land due to rising sea levels make it very difficult, if not impossible, for these people to survive."
"Big companies like Shell cause serious climate changes in countries like Mozambique that have contributed to it the least," says Hazekamp. "Shell's 'sustainable' plans have so far been seriously inadequate if we are to achieve the goal agreed in Paris to keep global warming below two degrees. On the contrary, warming will be much higher, with all the consequences that will bring. We need Shell to play its part if we are to limit global warming and thus ensure that drought and flooding cannot cause even more damage."
Why is this case so important?
"This is the first time that a company like Royal Dutch Shell has been called to account for its global impact on climate change," says Mollema. "Mostly, businesses fall through the legal loopholes in the system. It is important that everyone makes their contribution and takes their responsibility, and that includes Shell."
"Moreover," says Hazekamp, "Shell was one of the first to know that fossil fuels contribute directly to global warming and the disastrous effects that exploiting them would have. And yet it chose for short-term profits and an untenable economic model. Climate change is already having an enormous impact on the current generation, and years of talking to Shell have produced no results at all. That's why taking the company to court is the only remaining option."
What impact do you hope that the case will have around the world?
"I hope that it will create a precedent", says Mollema. "It would be fantastic if it could become a sort of road map for how people throughout the world can call companies to account for their policies and actions, and force them to face up to their responsibilities. Going to court is of course an emergency measure, a kind of last resort, but we have seen that many companies are not sufficiently taking their responsibility, and there is no time left to wait for them to do that of their own accord."
What does this case mean for you personally? Why does it give you so much energy?
"The potential of this case gives us a great deal of energy," says Hazekamp. "People have been calling on Shell for a long time to take action to combat global warming and adopt a different course. After so many years in which Shell has known that it has to take action and has done nothing, all the facts are now in the hands of the court. The main question is whether Shell has knowingly and illegitimately put people in danger. I am certain that is the case."
"Personally, I think what I've already mentioned provides me with sufficient motivation," says Mollema. "But there is more at stake. I derive a lot of energy from the reactions we receive from our partners and federation members in other countries. This case has given hope to a lot of people around the world."
Also take a look at this video:
A number of people in countries that are already feeling the harsh impacts of climate change, explain why this case is so important for them.
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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.
Press release / 5 April 2019
The Hague, April 5, 2019 - Today Friends of the Earth Netherlands will deliver a court summons to Shell to legally compel the company to cease its destruction of the climate, on behalf of more than 30,000 people from 70 countries. A 236 page complaint will be delivered to Shell's International Headquarters in the Hague this afternoon by Friends of the Earth Netherlands, ActionAid NL, Both ENDS, Fossielvrij NL, Greenpeace NL,Young Friends of the Earth NL, Waddenvereniging and a large group of co-plaintiffs.
News / 28 May 2021
"Historical verdict", "unique decision", "landslide victory". Superlatives flew to our ears in the media yesterday, when it became clear that the judge ruled that Royal Dutch Shell must reduce its CO2 emissions by 45% by the year 2030. For the plaintiffs, including Both ENDS, the verdict is very hopeful, as it was for many co-plaintiffs and citizens interested in this court case.
Press release / 26 May 2021
The Hague, 26 May 2021 - For the first time in history, a judge has held a corporation liable for causing dangerous climate change. Today, as a result of legal action brought by Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie) together with 17,000 co-plaintiffs and six other organisations (ActionAid Netherlands, Both ENDS, Fossil Free Netherlands, Greenpeace Netherlands, Young Friends of The Earth Netherlands and the Wadden Sea Association) the court in The Hague ruled that Shell must reduce its CO2 emissions by 45% within 10 years. This historic verdict has enormous consequences for Shell and other big polluters globally.
Press release / 26 March 2019
Wealthy Dutch investors to disinvest personal capital worth 200 million euros from the fossil industry
Joint press release from Both ENDS and Fossielvrij NL - 26 March 2019
A group of 22 wealthy Dutch investors have decided to disinvest all their personal capital, worth a total of 200 million euros, from the top 200 oil, gas and coal companies. The investors have pledged to disinvest all their capital from the fossil industry within three to five years. By doing so, they are giving a clear signal that they do not want their capital to contribute to disastrous climate change.
Press release / 12 February 2019
Amsterdam, 12 February 2019 - Fossil fuel giant Royal Dutch Shell is facing legal action from environmental and human rights organisations if it fails to align its growth plans with global climate goals aimed at averting catastrophic global warming.
News / 12 April 2019
We asked three of our partner organisations to tell us how climate change is already affecting the daily lives of the people they work with, what they are doing to turn the tide and if they think the Climate Court Case against Shell can be important in the context of climate change. Sara Crespo Suarez of our Bolivian partner Probioma explains how the effects are already being felt in her country.
News / 21 March 2019
We asked three of our partner organisations to tell us how climate change is already affecting the daily lives of the people they work with, what they are doing to turn the tide and if they think the Climate Court Case against Shell can be important in the context of climate change. Jahin Shams Sakkhar of UTTARAN (Bangladesh) talks about floods, salinity and (in)justice.
News / 19 March 2019
We asked three of our partner organisations to tell us how climate change is already affecting the daily lives of the people they work with, what they are doing to turn the tide and if they think the Climate Court Case against Shell can be important in the context of climate change. Ana di Pangracio, working for FARN (Argentina) tells us about climate threats to large wetlands, while these same wetlands are crucial in mitigating global climate change.
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.
Publication / 14 May 2017
Publication / 9 May 2018
Publication / 9 May 2018
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.
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.
Publication / 18 June 2017
Publication / 17 February 2022
News / 1 April 2021
Both ENDS is shocked by the dramatic news in the past days coming from Palma, Cabo Delgado, Mozambique. Our thoughts go to those who lost their lives or who are still missing, and their loved ones. Both ENDS is in close contact with our local partners to support them wherever we can. Many people are still missing, among whom members of farmers union UPC.
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.
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.