The People versus Shell

A coalition of activist groups, charities and the public is bringing a case against Shell. Friends of the Earth Netherlands, leading the campaign, sent a notice of liability last year urging Shell to issue a planned reduction in its oil and gas activity, to help prevent climate change and start acting in line with the goal of the Paris agreement.

Roger Cox, a lawyer representing Milieudefensie, a Dutch environmental organisation and co-plaintiffs in the climate case against Shell, comments: “The response of Shell has been that Shell does not accept liability for its actions. Shell has more or less stated that it feels that it is doing enough at this particular time in relation to climate change and it cannot do more unless there is global legislation that will force Shell into further climate action.”

The case includes allegations that Shell was fully aware of the impact its activities have had on the climate, but mislead the public whilst continuing its operations. In this, it has failed in its duty of care and violated human rights.

The action, brought in conjunction with ActionAid and Greenpeace amongst others, was formally started when Shell received a summons on 5 April. The case will be held under Dutch law.

At the same time, Follow This, a Dutch activist group, has said it has withdrawn a shareholder resolution calling on Shell to change its climate policy following the company having reached a broad agreement with investors.

Talks with six major Dutch investors, including Aegon and NN Investment Partners, have now led to the group deciding to withdraw the resolution and Shell’s recent decisions on transparency and climate commitment have made the group take a less confrontational approach. However, Shall still faces legal action from other environmental groups.

Follow This is also attempting to increase environmental commitment from BP, Chevron and Equinor.

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