A Dutch court ruled that Royal Dutch Shell must reduce its emissions by 45% by 2030 compared to 2019 levels, according to CNN.
The case was brought against Shell by Friends of the Earth Netherlands, a climate advocacy group that has waged similar lawsuits in the past to accelerate global climate action. While Shell plans to appeal the decision, the ruling requires the company to transform its business model worldwide, cutting emissions both for its own operations and the products it sells. In other words, the company will be forced to reduce its production and sale of fossil fuels.
“The court understands that the consequences could be big for Shell,” Jeannette Honée, a spokeswoman for the court, said in a video. “But the court believes that the consequences of severe climate change are more important than Shell’s interests.
“Severe climate change has consequences for human rights, including the right to life,” she added. “And the court thinks that companies, among them Shell, have to respect those human rights.”
Shell Oil is one of the companies most responsible for the world’s carbon emissions, according to data released by the US-based Climate Accountability Institute, because of how it has flooded global markets with fossil fuels that warm the atmosphere when burned for energy. The oil industry was also found to have misled and confused the public for decades about the science of climate change and lobbied lawmakers to spike climate legislation. In recent years, major oil companies have sought to greenwash the climate movement by shifting blame of the climate crisis onto individuals.
Far from heeding the warnings of climate scientists and advocates who say that the majority of remaining fossil fuels must remain in the ground, oil companies have expanded their fossil fuel operations and plan to drill indefinitely.
The International Energy Agency recently announced that no new fossil fuel deposits can be explored if the world is to achieve the Paris climate agreement’s goal of keeping temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. If temperatures rise above this threshold, then droughts, floods, extreme storms, heat waves, and more will get exponentially worse, endangering the lives of people worldwide.
Friends of the Earth argued in court that Shell was jeopardizing global human rights by maintaining business as usual. For the first time, a court agreed.
"This is a monumental victory for our planet, for our children and a big leap towards a livable future for everyone,” Donald Pols, director of Friends of the Earth Netherlands, said in a statement. “The judge has left no room for doubt: Shell is causing dangerous climate change and must stop its destructive behavior now."