Plus some other climate news
Note of bias: I am one of the 17000+ individual claimants in this case, but that doesn't matter, it is merely symbolical and got ruled inadmissible anyways.
Yesterday Royal Dutch Shell plc., one of the oil majors, got rekt. The The Hague district court ordered Shell to limit their CO2 emissions(all scopes) by at least net. 45% at the end of 2030 relative to 2019 levels.
This is like the Urgenda court case all over again, except this time it is a company, not a sovereign state. That makes it different. Though the court ruled that just like citizens and state, companies also have a responsibility. And yet again it confirms climate change is a human right issue.
Worth noting that Shell's emissions(Scope 1, 2, and 3) eclipse many countries, including the Netherlands. According to Shell's figures, if Shell would be a country, it would be in the top 5 of global emitters(2019).UNFCCC So in terms of absolute carbon, this case is more significant.
Also, it is a bit more nuanced: for Scope 1, Shell has a reduction obligation. For Scope 2 and 3(i.e. suppliers and consumers), it has a "significant best-efforts obligation". I wonder what that means in practice. I hope I understand this correctly, my knowledge of law is minimal.
Unlike Urgenda, this is the first ruling. It is highly likely Shell will go into appeal, and who knows, eventually in cassation. But, the order was declared as "provisionally enforceable", which means that Shell has to obey these rules with immediately, regardless whether they go into appeal or not.
I hope this history will hold up in appeal. This case isn't closed, the Court of Appeal might decide "yeah no".
I honestely didn't expect this, I was prepared to be disappointed, but I got pleasantly surprised, it is everything a claimant could hope for. Years ago when I signed up as a claimant for this case, I didn't quite realize what I signed up for. Losing was very likely, I thought, and I didn't grip the implications this case had when Shell'd lose. It is world news(Reuters, Al Jazeera, BBC, AP, Der Spiegel, CNBC, Bloomberg...) many dutch newspapers today had it on the front page.
This past month there was more related news. On the same day, Activist shareholders gained two seats on the board of oil company Total, and Shevron shareholders voted to reduce Scope 3 emissions. Last week on Shell's AGM, the more stringent climate resolution got 33% of the votes, up from 14% last year. My observation is that there seems to be growing pressure for these huge companies to reduce their emissions.
Oh, and somewhat but not entirely related, IEA released an impressive report called "Net Zero by 2050", I read the entire webpage, and it was a joy to read. It says that may we want to limit global warming to 1.5 °C, there should be no new oil, gas and coal mines effective immediately. I have never seen such an ambitious report before.
I hope the UN Climate Change Conference this year will yield more results.
You can read the entire court case here, or a summary press release
Bonus: "Climate of concern": Documentary from 1991 about climate change, made by... Shell