Thursday, May 27, 2021

Climate Change: A massive victory

Big oil is the big barrier to real action on climate change. But now a Dutch court has ordered Shell - one of the biggest oil companies in the world - to cut its emissions:

A court in the Hague has ordered Royal Dutch Shell to cut its global carbon emissions by 45% by the end of 2030 compared with 2019 levels, in a landmark case brought by Friends of the Earth and over 17,000 co-plaintiffs.

The oil giant’s sustainability policy was found to be insufficiently “concrete” by the Dutch court in an unprecedented ruling that will have wide implications for the energy industry and other polluting multinationals.

The Anglo-Dutch company was told it had a duty of care and that the level of emission reductions of Shell and its suppliers and buyers should be brought into line with the Paris climate agreement.

Note "and buyers" - this isn't some pissy scope 1 emissions measure which only looks at how much they drive and how much paper they use. Instead, they're basicly being ordered to cut oil production, and on human rights grounds (climate change is accepted as a threat to the right to life). And the latter provides precedent for similar cases in jurisdictions which comply with UN human rights standards (which, for the time being, includes the UK, HQ of BP. The other oil majors are headquartered in the US, which has no enforceable right to life).

Shell will appeal, of course. And then they'll probably try some dubious restructure and pretend that this nullifies the court order. But if they want to do business anywhere in the EU (including dodging taxes and laundering money through EU jurisdictions), they're going to have to comply. And hopefully there will be similar cases against other oil companies forcing them to as well.