Press release / 26 mei 2021

Historic victory: judge forces Shell to drastically reduce CO2 emissions

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.

Donald Pols, director of Friends of the Earth Netherlands: "This is a monumental victory for our planet, for our children and is a step towards a livable future for everyone. The judge has left no room for doubt: Shell is causing dangerous climate change and must stop its destructive behaviour now."

Historic turning point

Roger Cox, lawyer for Friends of the Earth Netherlands: "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."

International impact of the verdict

The ruling from the court in The Hague will have major ramifications internationally. Niels Hazekamp, senior policy advisor at Both ENDS: "This is incredibly good news, especially for people in countries like Niger and Bangladesh who face droughts or floods caused by climate change. They have no time to wait until companies like Shell comply with international climate agreement by themselves. This verdicht is of vital importance to them."

Sara Shaw from Friends of the Earth International: "This is a landmark victory for climate justice. Our hope is that this verdict willtrigger a wave of climate litigation against big polluters, to force them to stop extracting and burning fossil fuels. This resultis a win for communities in the global South who face devastating climate impacts now."

Main points from the verdict:

  1. Royal Dutch Shell must reduce its emissions by 45% net by the end of 2030.
  2. Shell is also responsible for emissions from customers (scope 3) and suppliers.
  3. There is a threat of human rights violations to the 'right to life' and 'undisturbed family life'.
  4. Shell must comply with the judgment immediately, because Shell's current climate policy is not concrete enough.

Donald Pols concludes: "This verdict is an enormous step forward for the international climate movement. One of the world's biggest polluters has finally been held responsible. I am filled with hope for the future, as we know that the climate crisis does not wait and does not stop at our borders. That is why it is so important the judge is now forcing Shell to take responsibility for its actions. This is also a clear signal to the other big polluters that they also have to act now."

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