A judge holds Shell liable for causing climate change in historic ruling

The Dutch ruling is being called a first of its kind and a big "step forward for the international climate movement."


In a historic ruling, Shell was held accountable for causing climate change. A court in The Hague, a city on the North Sea coast of the western Netherlands, ruled that Royal Dutch Shell must reduce its CO2 emissions by 45 percent by 2030.

A lawsuit brought against Shell by Friends of the Earth Netherlands together with 17,000 co-plantiffs and six organizations is being hailed a “historic verdict” and will have “enormous consequences for Shell and other big polluters globally,” according to a press release from Friends of the Earth.

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

According to The Guardian, the court ruled that Shell’s climate inaction violated the rights to life and family life as outlined by the European Convention on Human Rights. The court argued that Shell didn’t present any “concrete” action to curb climate change and therefore ordered the corporation, which was listed as the ninth greatest polluter in the world by the Carbon Majors database, take immediate action to reach net-zero emissions.

The Dutch ruling is being called a first of its kind and a big “step forward for the international climate movement.”

“One of the world’s biggest polluters has finally been held responsible,” Donald Pols, director of Friends of the Earth Netherlands, said. “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.”

Shell said it will appeal the court’s decision.


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