Court Orders Royal Dutch Shell to Cut Emissions by Nearly Half

The court ruled that the energy giant has a duty to reduce emissions and that its current plans are not concrete enough.

Milieudefensie director Donald Pols, right, celebrates the outcome of the verdict in the court case of Milieudefensie, the Dutch arm of the Friends of the Earth environmental organization, against Shell.
Milieudefensie director Donald Pols, right, celebrates the outcome of the verdict in the court case of Milieudefensie, the Dutch arm of the Friends of the Earth environmental organization, against Shell.
AP Photo/Peter Dejong

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A Dutch court has ordered Royal Dutch Shell to cut its carbon emissions by net 45 percent by 2030 compared to 2019 levels in a landmark case brought by climate activist groups. The ruling Wednesday by The Hague District Court could set a precedent for similar cases against polluting multinationals around the world.

The court ruled that the Anglo-Dutch energy giant has a duty of care to reduce emissions and that its current reduction plans are not concrete enough. Shell can appeal the ruling.

The court said in an English language summary of its ruling that Shell is not currently in breach of its obligation to reduce emissions as the environmental groups argued because the parent company is tightening its emissions policy. However, it added that the policy "is not concrete, has many caveats and is based on monitoring social developments rather than the company's own responsibility for achieving a CO2 reduction."

"Therefore, the court has ordered RDS to reduce the emissions of the Shell group, its suppliers and its customers by net 45 percent, as compared to 2019 levels, by the end of 2030, through the corporate policy of the Shell group."

A group of seven environmental and human rights organizations and some 1,700 Dutch citizens filed the case in 2018, calling on the court to order Shell to cut emissions in line with the global goals set out in the Paris climate agreement. That equates to Shell cutting emissions 45 percent by 2030.

The case in the Netherlands is the latest in a string of legal challenges filed around the world by climate activists seeking action to rein in emissions, but it is believed to be the first targeting a multinational company.


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