Environmentalists are taking Shell to court for destroying the climate
Glenn Reeder: One of the world’s largest oil and gas companies is being sued for its role in destroying the Earth’s climate. The lawsuit filed friday is part of a rising tide of environmental litigation across the globe. Jody strait files this report.
Jody Strait: Environmental groups in The Netherlands are taking one of the world’s largest oil companies, Royal Dutch Shell, to court.
In a court summons issued in The Hague, seven organizations allege Shell of violating Dutch law, human rights standards, and threatening to push the world past the warming limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius set by the International Panel on Climate Change.
The pressure to reign in fossil fuel companies has been mounting since the united nations warned that humanity has only until 2030 to avoid a climate crisis.
Carroll Muffett, president and CEO of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), told KPFA whether or not the Friends of the Earth, one of the environmental organizations bringing the suit, has a well founded case against Shell.
Carroll Muffett: Their claims are well-founded, both in Dutch law and in the law of human rights, and much more importantly, you know, in—in science, in the applicable science.
It’s very clear that we cannot—we cannot avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change unless and until the major producers of fossil fuels radically transform the way they’re doing business.
Jody Strait: This lawsuit is the first of its kind against Shell in its own backyard. But the company has faced lawsuits for violating human rights in the past, notably in Nigeria, where it settled a case in 2009 for over 15 million dollars.
Roger Cox, the lawyer leading this case, previously won a landmark verdict requiring the Dutch government to cut its CO2 emissions 25 percent by 2020, and he’s confident he’ll win this one too.
Muffett says a rising tide of cases are being brought against oil companies around the world—including in the United States, Germany and the Philippines—despite attempts by oil companies to rebrand themselves as eco-friendly businesses.
Carroll Muffett: Shell runs PR campaigns suggesting that the company is investing heavily in renewable energy. In truth, however, the company’s renewable energy investments are only a tiny fraction of its continued investment and expansion.
So for Shell on the one hand to say we are complying with climate standards and on the other hand to say we are going to produce ever more oil from ever new oil and gas frontiers, those things are grossly incompatible.
Jody Strait: Shell has already said it will halve its carbon emissions by 2050, tie employee bonuses to meeting reduction targets, and cut its ties with the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers—a Washington D.C. industry lobbying group.
If the lawsuit succeeds, Shell will have to reduce its global CO2 emissions to zero by 2050, instead.
For KPFA Radio in Berkeley, this is Jody Strait.