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May 27, 2021updated 26 Oct 2021 10:33am

Court orders Royal Dutch Shell to cut emissions by 45%

A Dutch court has ordered oil giant Royal Dutch Shell to cut 45% of its 2019 greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

By Matt Farmer

A Dutch court has ordered oil giant Royal Dutch Shell to cut 45% of its 2019 greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

The ruling came as the result of a case brought by seven climate campaign groups and 17,000 Netherlands citizens as co-plaintiffs. The campaign groups, which included national branches of Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, said Shell’s actions did not meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement.

On Wednesday afternoon, judge Larisa Alwin gave her ruling to a court in The Hague. According to Reuters, Alwin said the company’s targets are ‘not concrete and is full of conditions… [it’s] not enough.’ She continued: “The conclusion of the court is therefore that Shell is in danger of violating its obligation to reduce [emissions].”

Shell currently has a series of targets to decrease its emissions intensity, referring to the amount of emissions created by each of its products. By 2035, the company aims to have cut 45% of its emissions intensity compared to 2016 levels.

However, these targets allow the company’s emissions to increase if the company increases production. The court order would cover absolute emissions, giving it no such condition.

Furthermore, Alwin said the emissions measurement applied to ‘the Shell group and the suppliers and customers of the group’. This implies the ruling to cover Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, meaning the company would have to offset the emissions created by the use of its products.

Shell expects to appeal first-of-its-kind-ruling

Friends of the Earth Netherlands said the ruling marks the first time a company has had a legal obligation to align its policies with the Paris Agreement. Director Donald Pols marked the ruling as a ”monumental victory for our planet”.

Lawyer Roger Cox said: “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 company immediately said it would appeal the ruling, calling it ”disappointing”. A statement said: “Urgent action is needed on climate change, which is why we have accelerated our efforts to become a net-zero emissions energy company by 2050, in step with society, with short-term targets to track our progress.

“We are investing billions of dollars in low-carbon energy, including electric vehicle charging, hydrogen, renewables and biofuels. […] We will continue to focus on these efforts and fully expect to appeal today’s disappointing court decision.”

However, the court said that the company must immediately comply with the ruling regardless of upcoming appeals.

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