Royal Dutch Shell has to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030, a Dutch court ruled Wednesday in a landmark case that for the first time imposes such requirements on a private company.
“Shell must do its part to contribute to combating dangerous climate change,” a judge in The Hague read out at a livestreamed hearing. “The oil company is required through its corporate policy to reduce CO2 emissions from the Shell Group and customers by a net 45 percent by the end of 2030 compared to the 2019 level.”
The verdict finds Shell responsible for emissions from its subsidiaries and supply chain partners, and therefore for downstream CO2 reductions. Shell operates in more than 70 countries.
The highly-watched suit — filed by NGOs including Friends of the Earth Netherlands and more than 17,000 citizen co-plaintiffs — argued that Shell’s annual emissions of 1.6 billion tons of CO2 constituted an unlawful danger that the courts must stop to avoid global warming.
Shell has already committed to bringing its emissions to net zero by 2050, but the fight was over how fast that transition happens.
The green groups asked the court to force the company to cut emissions in line with the Paris climate agreement — something Shell argued could only be done by governments.
The judges disagreed. They also were unpersuaded by Shell’s argument that competitors would boost oil and gas production and emissions if Shell were forced to pull back.
Want more analysis from POLITICO? POLITICO Pro is our premium intelligence service for professionals. From financial services to trade, technology, cybersecurity and more, Pro delivers real time intelligence, deep insight and breaking scoops you need to keep one step ahead. Email [email protected] to request a complimentary trial.