Shell to appeal landmark Dutch climate judgement

The Hague District Court in late May ruled that the Anglo-Dutch fuel maker must reduce carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 as it was contributing to the 'dire' effects of climate change.

Youth carry along an effigy of Shell CEO Ben van Beurden for the Global Climate Strike protests on 20 September 2019 in Washington, DC. Picture: AFP

THE HAGUE, Netherlands - Oil giant Shell announced on Tuesday it will appeal a Dutch ruling which ordered it to slash greenhouse gas emissions, saying a "judgement against a single company is not effective" to curb climate change.

The Hague District Court in late May ruled that the Anglo-Dutch fuel maker must reduce carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 as it was contributing to the "dire" effects of climate change.

"We agree urgent action is needed and we will accelerate our transition to net zero," Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden said.

"But we will appeal because a court judgement, against a single company, is not effective," he said in a statement.

Dubbed "the People versus Shell", the case was backed by seven environmental groups and more than 17,000 Dutch citizens.

Campaigners hailed the landmark May 26 verdict, saying it would have global implications for energy firms and that it was the first time a company had been ordered to align its policy with the 2015 climate accords.

Shell however said it had its own plans, called the "Powering Progress" strategy to become a net-zero emissions business by 2050.

This was "in step with society’s progress towards the goal of the Paris Agreement on climate change," Shell said.

It added that the strategy was published in April and therefore was not considered by the court because the hearings that led to the May ruling took place several months earlier.

Shell pointed out it was the first company to put its new climate strategy to a vote an annual general meeting of shareholders, where it was approved by an 89% vote.

The firm believes the total carbon emissions of its operations peaked in 2018 and oil production in 2019, with a reduction of 2-3% until 2030.

Handing down the verdict, judges indeed acknowledged that Shell had "already tightened up its goals".

But the judges said its climate policy was "not concrete and full of reservations."

The 2015 Paris accords committed all nations to cut carbon emissions to limit warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels and encouraged them to go down to 1.5 degrees.

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