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Shell Sued in the Netherlands for Insufficient Action On Climate Change

Shell Sued in the Netherlands for Insufficient Action On Climate Change

Plaintiffs allege Shell’s current business model threatens human rights because the oil giant is knowingly undermining the world’s chances to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Photo Credit: Paul Ellis/Getty Images  

Seven environmental and human rights organizations in the Netherlands have filed suit against Royal Dutch Shell for failing to align its business model with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

The suit, which is the first to directly challenge an oil company’s business model, was filed Friday in The Hague by Friends of the Earth Netherlands/ MilieudefensieGreenpeace Netherlands, five other organizations and more than 17,000 Dutch citizens.

The plaintiffs are not seeking financial compensation, but are asking Shell to adjust its business model in order to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius, as recommended by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). They allege that by following a business model that it knows will not reach these goals, Shell is violating a Dutch law prohibiting “unlawful endangerment” and is violating human rights by taking insufficient action against climate change.

“If successful, the uniqueness of the case would be that Shell – as one of the largest multinational corporations in the world – would be legally obligated to change its business operations,” said Milieudefensie attorney Roger Cox, who also represented plaintiffs in the landmark Urgenda suit.

Urgenda was the first case in which a court ordered a government to reduce its emissions and the first time a court ruled that not taking sufficient action on climate change is a human rights violation.

Plaintiffs allege Shell’s current business model threatens human rights because the oil giant is knowingly undermining the world’s chances to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. They maintain that rather than guarantee emission reductions, Shell’s current plan would contribute to a much larger global temperature increase.

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