Friends of the Earth Netherlands wins climate case against Shell

For the first time in history, a judge has held a corporation liable for causing dangerous climate change. Today, as a result of legal action brought by Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie) together with 17,000 co-plaintiffs and six other organisations the court in The Hague ruled that Shell must reduce its CO2 emissions by 45% within 10 years. [1] This historic verdict has enormous consequences for Shell and other big polluters globally.

Donald Pols, director of Friends of the Earth Netherlands said: “This is a monumental victory for our planet, for our children and a big leap towards a liveable future for everyone.The judge has left no room for doubt: Shell is causing dangerous climate change and must stop its destructive behaviour now.

Roger Cox, lawyer for Friends of the Earth Netherlands, is also delighted
: “This is a turning point in history. This case is unique because it is the first time a judge has ordered a large polluting corporation to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement. This ruling may also have major consequences for other big polluters.”

Legal landslide: 
The ruling from the court in The Hague will have major ramifications internationally, said Sara Shaw from Friends of the Earth International: “This is a landslide victory for climate justice. Our hope is that this verdict will trigger a wave of climate litigation against big polluters, to force them to stop extracting and burning fossil fuels. This result is a win for communities in the global South who face devastating climate impacts now.”

Donald Pols 
concluded: “This verdict is an enormous step forward for the international climate movement. One of the world’s biggest polluters has finally been held responsible. I am filled with hope for the future, as we know that the climate crisis does not wait and does not stop at our borders. That is why it is so important that the judge is now forcing Shell to take responsibility for its actions. This is also a clear signal to the other big polluters must stop wrecking the climate.”


[1] The co-plaintiffs are: Action Aid Netherlands, Both ENDS, Fossil Free Netherlands, Greenpeace Netherlands, Young Friends of The Earth Netherlands and the Wadden Sea Association (Waddenvereniging) and more than 17,000 Dutch citizens.

Comments from Friends of the Earth Ireland 

Commenting on the court ruling, Emma-Jayne Geraghty, Education and Training Coordinator with Friends of the Earth Ireland said:  “This ruling signals the end for Big Oil and Gas. Fossil fuel companies like Shell have a unique responsibility for the climate crisis. Their continued drilling for gas and oil is totally incompatible with maintaining a planet that is safe for life.  Not only that, but Shell’s promotion of false climate solutions is a dangerous distraction from the real climate action we need. Because behind its talk about supporting the Paris Agreement, we know that Shell has been doing the very opposite – fuelling climate chaos.” “And it’s not just about carbon emissions. From Mayo to Mozambique, Shell has wreaked havoc on local communities, leaving a trail of human rights abuses, violence, oil spills, gas flaring, water contamination and community unrest in its wake. It’s time to say enough is enough. Shell has got to go. Oil and gas extraction must be consigned to the history books.”  Oisín Coghlan, Director of Friends of the Earth Ireland added:  “This ruling is very timely as Ireland enacts its new climate law and adopts its new Climate Action Plan. There is no longer any avoiding the imperative to reduce emissions. The courts now accept that as much as the scientists and citizens. Politicians and polluters must now follow. No sector is exempt, no company is exempt. We expect the Government’s new climate action plan to lay out the fastest and fairest path to a 50% cut in Ireland’s emissions by 2030”

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