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The recent ‘bad week’ suffered by oil majors Chevron, Exxon and Shell has been widely reported. The first two were caused by activist shareholders. But Shell lost a case in a Dutch court that may well serve as a significant legal precedent. The court held Shell responsible for reducing not only its own greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, but also its so-called Scope 3 emissions: the global emissions generated by end-users of its products.
All three are victories for combating climate change. But it has gone largely unnoticed that the Dutch court ruling against Shell was based on human rights grounds.
The court accepted plaintiffs’ claim that Shell’s reduction obligation ensues from a customary duty of care in the Dutch civil code. It further stated: “In its interpretation of the unwritten standa…