Friends of the Earth allies with top Dutch climate lawyer on Shell sue threat

NGO says oil major should bring business plan in line with 2 degrees Paris accord.

Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie) is threatening to take Shell to court if the oil major does not bring its corporate policy into line with the 2 degrees or lower Paris Climate Agreement, which it says the company is flouting. The NGO sent a liability letter to Shell today claiming it has a legal duty to do so, or face court action.
The threat comes hard on the heels of legal action announced earlier this year by the city of New York to sue Shell and oil major giants BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil for the billions of dollars they say it will have to spend to protect itself from the effects of climate change. Link
The Dutch NGO is working with Roger Cox, a lawyer based in Maastricht, to trigger the case if, it says, Shell maintains its policy of spending billions of euros to extract oil and gas that would bust through the Paris target when burned. A Shell spokesperson said: “We strongly support the agreement in Paris to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius or less, but we believe climate change is a complex societal challenge that should be addressed through sound government policy and cultural change to drive low-carbon choices for businesses and consumers, not by the courts.” A recent report on Shell, Total and Petrobras by the Transition Pathway Initiative, a £5 trillion global, asset owner-led initiative that researches what the transition to a low-carbon economy looks like for companies in sectors with a high impact on climate change, such as coal mining, electricity, oil and gas, and steel, found that all three majors are on a business trajectory that would bust the 2 degrees warming target of the COP21 Paris agreement. But it pointed out that Shell and Total could align with the Paris agreement under stated ‘ambitions’ to diversify and reduce their carbon intensity of energy supply.The data will be used by related shareholder engagement campaigns including the Climate Action 100+, a five-year initiative led by 256 investors running USD$28 trillion to engage with the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters to improve governance on climate change, curb emissions and strengthen climate-related financial disclosures.
Cox, a respected lawyer with a speciality in climate law, represented the Urgenda Foundation and 900 Dutch citizens in precedent-setting litigation in which The Hague District Court ordered the Dutch government to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% by 2020, instead of much lower targets proposed by the government. The Dutch government is challenging the ruling. That case was primarily based on tort law, human rights law and international environmental law. It was inspired by Cox’s 2011 book, Revolution Justified, which argued that the law would step in where politicians have failed on climate change. Friends of the Earth Netherlands says Shell could be challenged in court for hazardous negligence under Dutch law. Cox said: “Shell’s current policy is on a collision course with the Paris agreements. It seems as though Shell considers the damage that it does to the climate as an unfortunate but necessary evil. The law, however, opposes Shell’s view. Shell was informed in the liability letter that was sent today that the company has a legal duty to bring its policy in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.”
For the third year, Dutch investor group, Follow This, has co-ordinated the filing of a resolution calling on Shell’s board to set and publish time bound targets for the reduction of Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions in line with the Paris Agreement.