HSE & Sustainability

In a Landmark Case, Dutch Court Orders Shell To Cut Its Carbon Emissions Faster

A Dutch court ruled on 26 May that Royal Dutch Shell must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 45% by 2030, based on 2019 levels.

Pictures of plaintiffs fly outside the court in The Hague, Netherlands, before the ruling ordering Royal Dutch Shell to rein in its carbon emissions. Thousands of citizens joined the suit charging that Shell's fossil fuel investments endanger lives.
Credit: Peter Dejong/AP.

Climate change activists have won a big legal victory against oil giant Royal Dutch Shell. A Dutch court ruled on 26 May that the company must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 45% by 2030, based on 2019 levels.

The case could set a precedent for similar lawsuits against huge oil companies that operate across the globe.

"Our hope is that this verdict will trigger a wave of climate litigation against big polluters, to force them to stop extracting and burning fossil fuels," said Sara Shaw from Friends of the Earth International.

The 2030 goal affirmed by the court is more ambitious than Shell's target of becoming "a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050." Shell argues the 2050 goal is in line with the Paris climate accord. But The Hague District Court determined Shell's plans were not adequate.

The ruling applies to Shell and its suppliers and covers not only the companies' emissions but also emissions from products burned by its customers.

"This is a monumental victory for our planet, for our children, and a big leap towards a livable future for everyone," said Donald Pols, director of Friends of the Earth Netherlands.

In a statement, Shell spokesperson Anna Arata acknowledged that "urgent action is needed on climate change," and said the company has accelerated efforts to reduce emissions. The oil giant is "investing billions of dollars in low-carbon energy, including electric vehicle charging, hydrogen, renewables, and biofuels," Arata said.

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