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Landmark Climate Ruling Hits Shell With Major Directive

In case brought by activists, Hague District Court mandates 45% CO2 emissions reduction by 2030
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 26, 2021 11:17 AM CDT

(Newser) – A Dutch court has ordered Royal Dutch Shell to cut its carbon emissions by net 45% by 2030 compared to 2019 levels, in a landmark case brought by climate activist groups. The ruling Wednesday by the Hague District Court could set a precedent for similar cases against polluting multinationals around the world, per the AP. The court ruled that the Anglo-Dutch energy giant has a duty of care to reduce emissions, and that its current reduction plans aren't concrete enough. The court said Shell isn't 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."

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"Therefore, the court has ordered RDS to reduce the emissions of the Shell group, its suppliers, and its customers by net 45%, as compared to 2019 levels, by the end of 2030, through the corporate policy of the Shell group," the ruling noted. A group of seven environmental and human rights organizations and some 1,700 Dutch citizens filed the case in 2018, calling on the court to order Shell to cut emissions in line with the global goals set out in the Paris climate agreement. That equates to Shell cutting emissions 45% by 2030. The case in the Netherlands is the latest in a string of legal challenges filed around the world by climate activists seeking action to rein in emissions, but it's believed to be the first targeting a multinational company. Shell can appeal the ruling.

(Read more Royal Dutch Shell stories.)

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