Shell to speed up emissions cuts after landmark Dutch court ruling

Oil giant’s chief executive says company will ‘rise to the challenge’ of slashing emissions this decade

Ben Chapman
Thursday 10 June 2021 03:00
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<p>A court in the Hague ruled that Shell was not reducing its CO2 emissions fast enough</p>

A court in the Hague ruled that Shell was not reducing its CO2 emissions fast enough

Royal Dutch Shell has pledged to speed up cuts to its greehouse gas emissions after a court ruling the Netherlands.

Shell's chief executive Ben van Beurden said the company would "rise to the challenge" set by the Dutch court last week and take "come bold but measured steps" towards a low-carbon future.

A court in the Hague ruled that Shell was not reducing its CO2 emissions fast enough. It said the oil giant must cut the greenhouse gases it produces by 45 per cent over the next decade.

In a blog post responding to the decision, Mr van Beurden write that he was initially surprised by the decision because Shell had "set the pace" for carbon reduction in the oil industry.

He said he was disappointed that Shell had been "singled out" but added that, while the company expects to appeal, it would take action on emissions immediately.

"For Shell, this ruling does not mean a change, but rather an acceleration of our strategy," he wrote.

"Now we will seek ways to reduce emissions even further in a way that remains purposeful and profitable. That is likely to mean taking some bold but measured steps over the coming years."

Shell will give shareholders the chance to vote on its progress on tackling the climate crisis every year.

Mr van Beurden emphasised that Shell would continue to produce oil and gas and said that "the energy transition is far too big a challenge for one company to tackle'

He added: "To mention one, perhaps extreme scenario, imagine Shell decided to stop selling petrol and diesel today. This would certainly cut Shell’s carbon emissions.

“But it would not help the world one bit. Demand for fuel would not change. People would fill up their cars and delivery trucks at other service stations."

The case against Shell was filed in April 2019 by seven activist groups including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth Netherlands, and is the first lawsuit in which environmental groups have turned to the courts in an effort to force companies to lessen their impact on the planet.

They had demanded that Shell (RDS) must cut its carbon emissions by 45 per cent by 2030, a much steeper reduction than the company’s current goal of reducing the carbon intensity of the products it sells by 20 per cent over the next decade.

The court ruled the Anglo-Dutch energy company has a duty of care to reduce emissions and its current plans are not strong enough.

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