Shell faces climate in court

Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie) seeing Shell in court. The group is suing Shell along with 17,379 co-plaintiffs and six other organisations with a team headed by Roger Cox.

Cox is the lawyer that managed to force the government in the Netherlands to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by arguing that inaction placed its citizens in danger. This case is based on similar legal arguments as that 2019 decision, where the Dutch Appeals court created a precedent by ruling that a failure to achieve climate goals is a human rights violation and ordered the state to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25 per cent by the end of 2020.

Milieudefensie, has argued that Shell is violating its duty of care and threatening human rights by knowingly undermining the world’s chances of staying below 1.5C. Specifically, it accuses Shell of violating Articles 2 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights: the right to life and the right to respect for private and family life.

The judgement on Shell is now awaited, as lawyers, and if successful, the judge would require Shell to comply with global climate goals and reduce its emissions by 45% by 2030.

The lawsuit is not seeking compensation but to force Shell to alter its business model, which lawyers argue is not in line with the Paris Agreement. This has significant potential consequences for the climate and the wider fossil fuel industry. Due to its importance, the Dutch Court of Justice awarded special status to the case to make the legal process faster and more public than usual. A verdict from the judge is expected 26 May 2021.

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