Shell ordered to cut carbon emissions by 45% before 2030 in landmark ruling

26 May 2021, 16:56

Shell has been ordered to reduce its carbon footprint in a landmark court ruling
Shell has been ordered to reduce its carbon footprint in a landmark court ruling. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Shell has been ordered by a Dutch court to cut its carbon emissions by 45 per cent before 2030 in a landmark ruling brought by climate activist groups.

The multinational oil company was told it must nearly halve its pollution levels, compared with those recorded in 2019, in the next nine years.

Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) was facing a hearing in The Hague District Court on Wednesday, which could set the tone for future cases about pollution emitted by multinationals around the world.

The court found that the Anglo-Dutch energy company has a duty of care to reduce emissions and that its current plans are not robust enough.

Shell can appeal against the order, however the judge, Larisa Alwin, said it must act on the decision immediately even if it does.

The case was brought by environmentalist and human rights groups - including Friends of the Earth in the Netherlands - and 1,700 Dutch citizens in 2018.

Read more: Oil price defined tough year for BP and Shell

Read more: Extinction Rebellion activists blockade Shell HQ with huge purple boat

The court said the oil giant 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 per cent, as compared to 2019 levels, by the end of 2030, through the corporate policy of the Shell group."

Climate activists urged the court to order the firm to cut emissions in line with the global goals set out in the Paris climate agreement, which for Shell would be 45 per cent by 2030.

The case is the latest in a raft of legal challenges filed across the globe by campaigners seeking to reduce emissions, however it is thought to be the first targeting a multinational company.

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