Shell forced to make major cuts to CO2 emissions in historic court case

By Clara McDonnell May 27, 2021

On May 26, 2021, a Dutch judge made a historic ruling, holding Shell liable for causing dangerous climate change and requiring them to reduce their emissions. 

The case was brought by Milieudefensie, together with 17,000 co-plaintiffs and six other organisations (Action Aid Netherlands, Both ENDS, Fossil Free Netherlands, Greenpeace Netherlands, Young Friends of the Earth Netherlands, and the Wadden Sea Association). 

Roger Cox, lawyer for Friends of the Earth Netherlands says: “This is a turning point in history. 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.”

Specifically, Shell will be required to: 

  1. Reduce their emissions by 45% net by the end of 2030 
  2. Take responsibility for emissions from customer use of their products (scope 3 emissions) and suppliers 
  3. Comply with the judgement immediately, as the ruling declares Shell’s current climate policy to not be concrete enough

This decision has the potential to have major ramifications for the international climate movement, as well as for communities around the world already suffering the impacts of climate change. Notably, the verdict also identifies that there is a “threat of human rights violations to the ‘right to life’ and ‘undisturbed family life’.” This case sets a precedent for other major polluters to be held accountable, and for courts around the world to act in protection of current and future generations’ lives. 

Read the press release here