Shell accused of not doing enough against climate change in court case
Dutch oil and gas giant Shell will appear in court today for a lawsuit accusing the company of doing too little against climate change. According to 17 thousand individuals, environmental organization Milieudefensie, and six other social organizations, Shell should do much more to reduce emissions caused by burning oil and gas, decreasing its emissions by 45 percent in 2030 compared to 1990, NOS reports.
This is the first time a large oil and gas company is brought to court over cliemate change. In the past, mainly governments have been the subject of such cases. The first such lawsuit in the Netherlands was the Urgenda case. The government fought rulings in this case to the Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the environmental organization, saying that the Dutch state must do more to reduce emissions.
The difference with the lawsuit against Shell is that, unlike almost 200 governments, companies did not sign the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. So the question is whether they can be held to the agreements aimed at limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees.
Milieudefensie thinks that companies can be held to those standards, because otherwise the climate goals will never be reached. According to the environmental organization, Shell is one of the 10 largest emitters in the world. "On its own, Shell emits twice as much CO2 as the Netherlands."
According to Milieudefensie, Shell announces big climate plans, but in practice does little or nothing to make itself more sustainable. Currently, Shell is still investing about 95 percent of its expenditure - tens of billions of euros - into oil and gas. Shell is not "embracing the Paris Climate Agreement" as it claims, but "strangling it", Donald Pols of Milieudefensie said to NOS.
"It feels a bit like David against Goliath, but we feel supported by many," Pols said. "Shell is richer and more powerful than some countries, but it is constantly avoiding its responsibility to solve the climate crisis. That is no longer possible, because the climate cannot wait."
On its website, Shell responded to the lawsuit by saying that it agrees that cleaner energy systems must be established. But according to the company, it is up to governments to set clear goals that will lead consumers and companies to change their behavior.
Shell said that companies should also take responsibility, and that it doing exactly that. According to Shell it wants to emit "net zero" greenhouse gasses by 2050, and wants to help others who use Shell products. "We also need to work with our customers, who are also going through changes," Shell said. "Most of the emissions come from our customers using Shell products. That's why we are exploring ways to help our customers reduce their emissions."
The company therefore plans to sell products that emit fewer emissions, such as hydrogen, sustainable energy and bio-fuels. According to Shell, this will lead to 65 percent fewer emissions in 2050, compared to 2016. The company also said that it will announce more sustainability plans next year.