Why climate NGO threatened legal action against Shell

Why climate NGO threatened legal action against Shell

Friends of the Earth Netherlands has threatened to take on global oil giant Shell over claims it is ‘destroying’ the climate.

The climate Non-Governmental Organisation said it will take legal action if Shell does not “act on demands” by the group.

In what would be a landmark case, the lawsuit would demand that Shell act on climate change targets rather than award financial damages to the plaintiff.

Friends of the Earth Netherlands claim that Shell is one of the ten biggest climate polluters in history and that the company has continued to act in a harmful was despite the Paris Climate Agreement.

Responding, one Shell spokesperson said: “The Shell Group has long recognised the climate challenge and the role of energy in enabling a decent quality of life. We strongly support the agreement in Paris to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius or less, but we believe climate change is a complex societal challenge that should be addressed through sound government policy and cultural change to drive low-carbon choices for businesses and consumers, not by the courts.”

Karin Nansen, chair of Friends of the Earth International, said: “This case matters for people everywhere. Shell is doing enormous damage worldwide – climate change and dirty energy have devastating impacts around the world, but especially in the global South. With this lawsuit we have a chance to hold Shell to account.”

“If we win this case, it has major consequences for other fossil companies, and opens the door for further legal action against other climate polluters. Friends of the Earth International wants to see binding rules for corporations like Shell who so often regard themselves as being above the law, including when it comes to climate goals.”

Caroline Rance, Friends of the Earth Scotland climate campaigner, said: “Shell has known for over 30 years that their activities are causing dangerous climate change, yet continues to extract oil and gas and invest billions in the search and development of new fossil fuels. In January this year, it announced an expansion of operations in the North Sea to drill eight wells off the coast of Shetland, despite knowing fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground to avoid catastrophic warming. These investment decisions are driven purely by profit and are completely incompatible with global efforts required to tackle climate change.

“Instead of drilling deeper into the North Sea, Shell should be focusing on how to support its workers and communities in Scotland in making a just transition to a zero carbon economy. We cannot tackle climate change if large fossil fuel corporations are allowed to continue drilling for oil and gas.

“It’s high time Shell and other big fossil fuel companies were held to account for their actions. They have proven themselves unable to change and unable to respond to the climate emergency so their business plan must be challenged.”

“Shell is trying to greenwash its image with warm words about moving to renewable energy and meeting the Paris Agreement, but it only plans to invest around 5% of its business into sustainable energy.”