(Reuters) – A Dutch court ruling to force the Royal Dutch Shell to make deeper, faster cuts to its global warming climate emissions could set a precedent, especially in European countries, according to lawyers and activists.
The court on Wednesday ordered the Anglo-Dutch company to reduce its global greenhouse gas emissions, which amounted to about 1.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents in 2019, by 45% by 2030. Shell said it would appeal the decision to force it to reduce by an amount roughly equivalent to four times the UK's annual emissions.
“We expect a ripple effect in other jurisdictions. Now that we have this first established responsibility, it definitely creates a momentum we can build on, says Roger Cox, lawyer for the activist group Friends of the Earth, which led the case together with Greenpeace, other activists and Dutch citizens.
They filed a lawsuit in the Netherlands, where Shell's headquarters are located.
The court found that Shell violated its duty of care under Dutch law because its policies and emissions contributed to dangerous climate change.
Shell had argued that its global emissions were not covered by Dutch law, that the complainants' allegations were a matter for legislators and that the company acted lawfully and its emissions were permissible. The company also said that the complainants could not establish that reducing Shell's emissions would have an impact on climate change.
Michael Burger, a dispute specialist representing local US governments in climate issues including against Shell, said while Wednesday's decision was based on Dutch law, the concept of duty of care exists in legal systems in Europe and around the world.
"I think it is very likely that we will see other lawsuits filed in other jurisdictions trying to do the same," he said, noting that a similar case is pending against Total in France.
Myfanwy Wood, a dispute resolution partner at the law firm Ashurst, said that duplication of the approach would depend on the standard of care applicable to companies in other jurisdictions.
Dutch climate decisions have inspired the global climate in the past. by the Urgenda Foundation. The decision, which paved the way for the Shell case, stated that the government had an obligation to be careful in order to significantly reduce emissions.
The case "triggered a wave of similar lawsuits around the world against governments, and we can expect that with the decision yesterday," said Louise Fournier, Greenpeace's climate advocate.
There are approximately 425 ongoing climate lawsuits in various countries and approximately 1
U.S. cases target industry, while most cases in other jurisdictions target governments.
Experts said that the Dutch decision will have no legal effect on the US targets, which are generally based on various laws and accusations industry. to mislead the public about climate change and seek economic damage.
However, the Dutch decision may still affect US cases, says Karen Sokol, a professor at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. She said that the Dutch decision assured US judges that climate change means more than decision-making.
"The industry has done everything it can to intimidate courts into 'you have no role'," says Sokol. "It will be demystified and courts will be comfortable with it."
European legislators are working on a series of new rules on the type of investment to be labeled sustainable and how to reduce planetary warming leaks from natural gas infrastructure.
"This decision (…) increases the pressure on major polluters and helps us in Europe to step up climate policy for them too ", says Green European legislator Bas Eickhout, Vice-Chair of the European Parliament's Environment Committee.
" They can no longer escape the climate crisis: International climate goals must also apply to them. " 19659002]