Amsterdam, 12 February 2019 – Fossil fuel giant Royal Dutch Shell is facing legal action from environmental and human rights organisations if it fails to align its growth plans with global climate goals aimed at averting catastrophic global warming.
In what would be the first case of its kind, the seven organisations will hand over a court summons on 5 April if Shell fails to change its business model to align with the Paris Agreement and set out a plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
ActionAid Netherlands, Greenpeace Netherlands, Fossielvrij NL, part of the 350 network, Both ENDS, Wadden Sea Forum and Youth Environment Active (JMA) are joining Friends of the Earth Netherlands in delivering these demands to the company.
Shell is the largest polluter based in the Netherlands and one of just 100 fossil fuel producers responsible for 71% of all harmful industrial greenhouse gas emissions since 1988.
In a letter to the company today, the groups say they will handover a court summons if Shell fails to meet their requests. More than 13,000 Dutch citizens have signed up to become co-claimants in the potential legal case. Hundreds of co-claimants will join the seven organisations as they hand over the court summons at Shell’s headquarters in The Hague on 5 April.
Shell spends billions on oil and gas exploration each year, with current plans to invest just 5% ($1-2 billion) of its budget in sustainable energy and 95% ($25-30 billion) in exploiting fossil fuels. Shell’s destructive plans are simply incompatible with the goal to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C of warming set out by the Paris Agreement.
Maria van der Heide, head of policy and campaigns at global justice organisation ActionAid Netherlands, says: “From severe droughts in Africa to extreme flooding in Asia, millions of people we work with are seeing their lives and livelihoods torn apart by climate change. Shell’s refusal to kick its fossil fuel addiction, is sentencing them and many more to further devastation. We’re joining this case because we want to ensure that Shell finally puts humanity’s future above its bottom line.”
Joris Thijssen, director of Greenpeace Netherlands, says: “For decades, Shell has chosen to make big profits at the expense of the climate. Shell is deliberately obstructing the energy revolution that is so badly needed to prevent catastrophic climate change. We need to make sure that Shell takes responsibility for its actions and changes its destructive business model.”
Danielle Hirsch, director of environmental group Both ENDS, says: “For Both ENDS it’s a logical step to become a co-plaintiff, because companies like Shell keep the world dependent on fossil fuels. In the meantime, millions of people in world are suffering from the extraction and use of fossil fuels. The fossil fuel industry – and Shell in particular – is not taking their responsibility.”
Liset Meddens, director of Fossielvrij Netherlands, which is part of the 350 network, says: “This court case offers a historic opportunity to break the power of climate damaging companies such as Shell, and to stop their damaging activities. It is unacceptable that multinationals like Shell are still slowing down the transition from fossils to renewable, sustainable energy. We are very proud of the fact that we are taking Shell to court together with 13,000 Dutch citizens and Friends of the Earth Netherlands.”
Sibel Kurt, chair of the youth organisation Jongeren Milieu Actief, says: “In a time where the strongest shoulders should bear the heaviest burden, Shell continues to act in way that negatively impacts our planet and our future. It is time we stand up together, raise our voice and make sure that Shell’s activities are supporting a sustainable future.”
Lutz Jacobi, director Wadden Sea Forum, says: “Climate change is the biggest threat for the Wadden Sea, the Netherland’s only World Heritage Site. Shell is one of the 100 fossil fuel producers who together are responsible for 71% of the emission of greenhouse gases worldwide. Shell can really make a difference for the climate, and also for the Wadden Sea. It is only by working together we can make sure to stop climate change. That’s why we are joining the law suit.”