In April 2019, seven environmental groups_ including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth Netherlands, filed a case against the Royal Dutch Shell plc, arguing that Shell did not meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement.
The Paris Agreement is an international treaty, which was adopted by 196 Parties in December 2015, with a goal to limit global warming to preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. The agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016.
The case was heard in a court in Hague _ Netherlands, where shell’s headquarters are based. On behalf of Dutch citizens, the groups argued that Shell was a threat to human rights, as the company was still investing billions in the production of fossil fuels.
As reported by Aljazeera, the court ruled that even though Shell did not breach its obligation to reduce emissions, the company’s policy was not concrete, had many caveats and was based on monitoring social developments rather than reducing carbon emissions.
The court reached that decision after considering the fact that the company was working to tighten its emissions policy.
The Hague District court also ruled that Shell group was fully responsible for its own carbon emissions and those of its suppliers. For these reasons, the company was given until 2030 to reduce its carbon emissions by 45% _ as compared to the 2019 levels.
According to CDP Carbon Majors Report released in 2017, Shell was ranked the ninth-largest corporate producer of greenhouse gas emissions between 1988 and 2015. In 2018, Shell announced that it hoped to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner.
In February this year, the company updated the public on its plan to tackle climate change, saying that it had planned to curb its emissions through rapid growth of its low-carbon businesses, including electric vehicle charging, hydrogen, renewables and biofuels.
Explaining their efforts, the company said that they had also given their investors an advisory voice on their energy transition strategy, and made it clear that they had already built about 200 fast charging points and targets 250 by the end of the year.
The company has opened hydrogen filling stations and have plans to build electrolyzers in the Port of Rotterdam and Eemshaven for the production of green hydrogen from green electricity.
Together with their partners, the company also develop biofuels, such as bio-LNG from bio-waste, for more sustainable freight transport. Shell is also working on their fourth solar farm.
On this case, Shell argued that there was no legal basis for the case and that the government alone was responsible for meeting Paris targets. The company however acknowledged that urgent action was needed, to tackle the climate change.
The court did not specify how Shell should achieve the ordered cutback; and gave the company the freedom to choose a way to meet its reduction obligation.
After the ruling, Shell gave a statement that they will continue to focus on carbon emission reduction efforts and will appeal the disappointing court ruling; because a rapid reduction of emissions would force the company to quickly move away from oil and gas.