A Climate Case Has Been Filed Against Shell In the Netherlands

Civil court hearings began in the Netherlands recently for a case against the energy company Shell. The results of the case will have huge implications for the role such companies play in meeting climate targets as well as for future cases related to the matter. Co-plaintiffs in the case are thousands of Dutch citizens and seven environmental organizations.

A Crowd of Climate Activists Delivered the Legal Summons to Shell’s Headquarters

Climate activists pose outside the Shell headquarters, rear, in The Hague, Netherlands
A Climate Case Has Been Filed Against Shell In the Netherlands

Friends of the Earth Netherlands is the organization that is leading the case against Royal Dutch Shell, which is an Anglo-Dutch company based in the Hague. There, public hearings are taking place in district court for a unique lawsuit that could end up having significant consequences for the fossil fuel industry and climate on a global scale. The organization is hoping that the judge will force Shell to follow international climate goals.

While Shell stated it agrees with Friends of the Earth that action has to be taken to reduce climate change, the company seems to disagree that a court order is a good way to accomplish that. Instead, they advocate a more effective policy — investments in new technology and changing the behavior of the customers. The company has also pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and defended its actions by pointing at its investments in biofuels and renewable energy.

The Urgenda Case from Last Year Was Also a Major Step for Climate Activists

The Urgenda Foundation Wins the Urgenda Case
A Climate Case Has Been Filed Against Shell In the Netherlands

Last year, another major court battle was fought between the Urgenda Foundation and the Netherlands. Back then, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled in favor of Urgenda and had the Netherlands commit to reducing its emissions by a quarter before 2020 in comparison with the levels from 1990. Now, the new climate case is said to have the same groundbreaking potential.

Opponents of Shell say the company is causing dangerous climate change with over 95% of its activities, and that has led to the enormous support the Dutch people are giving to the cause, Friends of the Earth Netherlands. This December, there will be four days when public hearings will take place.