Historic victory: Judge forces Shell to drastically reduce CO2 emissions

Friends of the Earth Netherlands wins climate case against Shell

THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS – 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 organizations, the court ruled that Shell must reduce its CO2 emissions by 45 percent within 10 years. This historic verdict has enormous consequences for Shell and the fossil fuel industry globally. 

Donald Pols, director of Friends of the Earth Netherlands, said, “This is a monumental victory for our planet, for our children, and is a stop 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 behavior now.” 

Main points from the verdict: 

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

Roger Cox, lawyer for Friends of the Earth Netherlands, stated, “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.” 

The ruling from the court in The Hague will have major ramifications internationally, including in the United States. “The day of reckoning is coming for U.S. fossil fuel companies,” said Kate DeAngelis, Senior International Policy Analyst with Friends of the Earth U.S. “The Biden administration must heed this warning and do its part to end dependence on fossil fuels by ending all support for overseas fossil fuel projects and other fossil fuel subsidies.” 

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

More information about the ruling can be obtained from the Press Office of the District Court in The Hague: Mr. Gijsbert Wassinkmaat, +31 (0)6 – 528 30 471 

Other information: 

Photos, video material and interviews with director Donald Pols and lawyer Roger Cox will be available upon request via: [email protected] or +31 (0)20 5507 333 / (0)6-46851137 

Contact: Kaela Bamberger, [email protected], 202-222-0703 

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