An environmental campaign group on Wednesday threatened to take Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell to court should it fail to comply with climate targets set out under the Paris agreement.
‘Friends of the Earth Netherlands announced today that they will take Shell to court if it does not act on demands to stop its destruction of the climate,’ the group said in a statement, accusing the firm of being ‘among the ten biggest climate polluters worldwide’.
The group said Shell promotes gas as a ‘clean fuel’, citing research that ‘shows that Europe cannot continue to use fossil fuels including gas’ and meet its climate commitments under the Paris accord.
Shell reacted to the announcement saying ‘we believe climate change is a complex societal challenge that should not be tackled by the courts’.
Rather, it should be pushed by ‘sound government policy and a cultural shift to drive low carbon dioxide choices among businesses and consumers,’ it added in a statement.
Shell said it ‘strongly supported’ the Paris climate agreement, which is committed to keeping global temperature rise to lower than two degrees Celsius.
According to Friends of the Earth’s Dutch chapter, Shell has two months to take action or else face legal action.
The group said in its statement that the threatened lawsuit – supported by Friends of the Earth’s European and international sections – was the first demanding climate action from a fossil fuels company.
‘This ground-breaking case, if successful, would significantly limit Shell’s investments in oil and gas globally by forcing them to comply with climate targets,’ the statement said.
Karin Nansen, chair of Friends of the Earth’s global office, said: ‘This case matters for people everywhere… With this lawsuit we have a chance to hold Shell to account.’
The move comes a month after Amnesty International urged energy-rich Nigeria to re-open investigations into oil spills in its southern delta region after claims that Shell and Italian oil firm ENI misreported the causes.
Shell rejected the allegations, saying they were ‘false, without merit and fail to recognise the complex environment in which it operates’.
The energy giant in February said a major recovery in oil prices enabled it to nearly triple profits in 2017.