La Haye (AFP)
A Dutch court will deliver its verdict on Wednesday on a historic offer by environmental groups to force oil giant Shell to meet greenhouse gas emissions targets in the Paris climate accords.
Dubbed ‘the people against Shell’, the case was launched in 2019 by the Dutch branch of Friends of the Earth, and is supported by six other groups and over 17,000 Dutch citizens.
Anglo-Dutch multinational Shell says it is making serious efforts to reduce gas emissions, but maintains that there is no legal basis for the deal and that governments are responsible for meeting the Paris targets.
“The climate case against Shell is unique because it is the first time in history that judges have been asked to order a company to emit less CO2 by changing its policy,” said the Friends of the Terre Netherlands in a press release.
Judges at The Hague District Court will start reading the verdict at 13:00 GMT.
The case is part of a series around the world in which citizens and activists frustrated with inaction on climate change have taken governments and big polluters to court.
The 2015 Paris accords committed all nations to cut carbon emissions to limit warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels and encouraged them to drop to 1.5 degrees.
Activists called on the court during the December hearings to order the Anglo-Dutch multinational Shell to reduce its emissions by 45% by 2030 in order to help achieve that goal.
Shell said it would reduce the “net carbon footprint” of the products it sells by 30% by 2035 and reach 65% by 2050.
– ‘Historic opportunity’ –
But ActionAid Netherlands executive director Marit Maij said “big polluters like Shell have a disproportionate responsibility to help fight climate change.”
“We hope the judge will take this historic opportunity to hold Shell accountable for its actions and ensure it cuts emissions in line with the Paris Agreement,” Maij said.
The group said that “Shell’s strategy is to continue to pollute while offsetting its emissions with extensive tree plantations.”
“This will require land three times the size of the Netherlands, which risks causing conflicts over food and land in the south,” she added.
Dozens of climate protesters filed a lawsuit at Shell Netherlands headquarters in The Hague in April 2019, which organizers said was the first such case.
Shell lawyers told the court in December that the company was already taking “serious steps” to support the global transition away from fossil fuels, and that the final decision rests with governments.
He said there was no legal basis for the case, nor any legal rule making Shell’s emissions illegal.
Campaigners hope to repeat the success of a case brought by the green group Urgenda in which the Dutch Supreme Court in 2019 ordered the state to cut emissions to at least 25 from 1990 levels by the end of 2020 .
The Netherlands, particularly vulnerable to climate change as a third of the country is below sea level, has pledged to reduce its CO2 emissions by 49% by 2030.
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