For the first time in the world, an oil company has been ordered by a court to reduce its contribution to the climate crisis. Its own decision should prevent millions of tons of CO2 from reaching the atmosphere, and the impact could be even greater if the court follows suit elsewhere. The Royal Dutch Shell extracts and sells 665 million barrels of oil per year. While it is not employed to fund climate-change-denial groups on the scale of ExxonMobil or Coach Brothers, there is a long record of more subtle frustration with climate action.
Nevertheless, Shell has an official goal of “net-zero emissions power business by 2050”. Those on board are likely to take longer retirements during the delivery period, and this promise could be substantially higher in many countries. But a Dutch court has ordered their own government to take some of the fastest emissions cuts in the world. Now they have done the same thing with Shell, with a ruling that the company’s emissions must be 45 percent below the 2019 level by 2030.
One-third of your country is probably focused on the importance of the oceans not being too much about the bottom of the ocean floor. The extraction and transportation of all these fossil fuels themselves contributes greatly to global warming, but the biggest impact of the shell is through the emission of Scope 3, which fuels the products sold to customers. The court ruling includes emissions from shell suppliers as well, so cutting off the arms of the agency responsible for most emissions would be of no use.
The decision includes not only own country but also Shell’s operations (Shell is in HQ The Hague). “Serious climate change could have consequences for human rights, including the right to life,” said Judge Janet Honey. “And the court thinks that the shell companies among them must respect this human right.” Roger Cox of Friends of the Earth Netherlands said in a statement, “This is a turning point in history. This case is unique because this is the first time a judge has instructed a major polluting agency to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement.” The seven environmental organizations that took the case to court are thrilled.