“On its own, Shell emits twice as much CO2 as the Netherlands”
Translated by Adriana Dancu
A lawsuit against Shell started in The Hague this week, reports the NOS. The case was filed by the Milieudefensie pressure group, and six other social organizations including the Harlingen-based Waddenvereniging. Seventeen thousand Dutch citizens have also joined the lawsuit, saying that they believe that Shell is doing too little to combat climate change.
According to the coalition, Shell should do much more to reduce emissions caused by burning oil and gas. According to Milieudefensie, Shell’s emissions should decrease by 45 percent by 2030, compared to 2019 levels.
It is the first time that a large oil and gas company has been brought to court over climate change, and there is also interest in this lawsuit from abroad. Milieudefensie hopes that more people and groups will follow suit, and file lawsuits against large oil companies if the judge agrees with them in this case.
Paris Climate Agreement
At the same time, it is not the first lawsuit that has been conducted around the climate. Until now, it has mainly been governments against which cases have been conducted, both at home and abroad. For example, the case that Urgenda (another climate activist group brought against the Dutch state was seen to be controversial: in that lawsuit, the state defended itself up until to the Supreme Court, but Urgenda’s case held right up to the highest level.
The difference between that prior case, and this the lawsuit now filed against Shell is that it now concerns a company: governments are the ones that have made international agreements about climate. After all, it was almost 200 countries that together concluded the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. It was agreed that global warming should be limited to well below 2 degrees, preferably close to 1.5 degrees.
Companies were not at the table when making that agreement. And so, the big question is whether they can still be held accountable. According to Milieudefensie, they can, because achieving the climate goals would otherwise be impossible. Shell is one of the ten largest emitters in the world, says Milieudefensie. “On its own, Shell emits twice as much CO2 as the Netherlands.”
‘Careless and Unfounded’
However, Shell rejects the allegations. On their website, the company elaborates on the lawsuit and states that, just like Milieudefensie, it believes that a cleaner energy system should be established. But opinions differ about how it can be done. The claims against Shell in this case are, according to Shell, “careless and unfounded.”
It is up to governments, says Shell, to formulate clear goals that will lead consumers and companies to change their behavior. According to Shell, companies should also take their responsibility, but should not lead. Shell itself wants to become a “net zero” greenhouse gas emitter by 2050, and wants to help others that use Shell’s products also change similarly.“We also need to work with our customers, who are also going through changes,” writes Shell. “Most of the emissions come from our customers using Shell products. That’s why we are exploring ways to help our customers reduce their emissions.”
The other organizations that have joined the lawsuit are Actionaid, Both ENDS, Fossielvrij NL; Greenpeace Netherlands, Jongeren Milieu Actief and, the Waddenvereniging. Four court days have been allocated to this case: yesterday, December 3, 15 and 17.
Shell says that it wants to start selling products with fewer emissions, such as sustainable energy sources, bio-fuels and hydrogen. In 2050, this should lead to 65 percent fewer emissions compared to 2016, says the company.
Shell recognizes that this package is still insufficient to meet the Paris objectives. At the beginning of next year, Shell will announce new plans, for example, how much more will be invested in new energy.
David vs. Goliath
According to Milieudefensie, Shell says all this, but the company does not really mean it. At the moment, Shell is still investing tens of billions, about 95 percent of all its expenditure, on oil and gas, and thus, “Shell does not embrace the Paris Climate Agreement as they say,” said Donald Pols of Milieudefensie. “Then it becomes strangled.”
Pols went on to say that “it feels a bit like David against Goliath, but we feel supported by many: Shell is richer and more powerful than some countries, but it is constantly avoiding its responsibility to solve the climate crisis. That is no longer possible because, climate does not wait.”
Shell and the Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM)
The Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij is a company engaged in the production of natural gas and petroleum in the Netherlands, and on the Dutch continental shelf. Half of NAM is owned by the Shell, and half by the American company ExxonMobil.
The gas and petroleum extractions in the Northern Netherlands have been linked to tens of earthquakes across Groningen and Friesland, but the company strongly denies this. In 2016, the Council of Ministers decided to limit gas extraction in Groningen with a review in 2021. However, after the Westerwijtwerd earthquake in 2019 the decision was made to further limit gas extraction in May 2019. It is said that gas extraction will in principle come to an end in 2022.
Source article can be found here.
Image via Piqsels. Rights Free.