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Shell ordered to reduce emissions by 2030 in landmark ruling

By Zarrin Ahmed
Shell ordered to reduce emissions by 2030 in landmark ruling
A court in The Hague was critical of Shell's "intangible, undefined and non-binding plans" for becoming more environmentally sustainable. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo

May 26 (UPI) -- In the first ruling of its kind, the District Court in The Hague on Wednesday ordered multinational oil and gas company Shell to greatly cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.

The court ordered the British-Dutch company to reduce net emissions by 45% compared to its 2019 levels, NL Times reported. The court order was based on emissions directly caused by Shell as a business, not by the use of the fuel it sells to businesses and consumers.

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Shell is required to demonstrate that it is meeting the target set by the ruling, which affects all companies and legal entities under the Royal Dutch Shell group.

Complainant Milieudefensie, the Dutch branch of Friends of the Earth, said Shell's emissions are expected to rise due to its growth strategy for oil and gas activities over the next decade. It argued that Shell is violating Dutch liability law by emitting two times as much carbon dioxide as the Netherlands as a whole.

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Shell argued that the emissions come from its subsidiaries in 80 countries across the world, not solely from its headquarters based in Houston, Texas.

Milieudefensie director Donald Pols told reporters the court order is the first to mandate a private company to change its business model to reduce its carbon footprint.

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The Shell group subscribes to the climate goals of the Paris Agreement and expressed support for the Green Deal, the Dutch Climate Agreement, and the goals of the Dutch Climate Act.

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However, the court was critical of Shell's "intangible, undefined and non-binding plans" for becoming more environmentally sustainable.

Shell responded to the ruling, stating that it is investing billions in low-carbon energy, "including electric vehicle charging, hydrogen, renewables and biofuels."

"We want to grow demand for these products and scale up our new energy businesses even more quickly," the statement said. "We will continue to focus on these efforts and fully expect to appeal today's disappointing court decision."

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Shell also promised to take steps to transition its business to net-zero emissions. It referred to steps taken in recent years toward that goal, including its announcement in 2020 to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050.

In the Netherlands, Shell said it has taken its second wind farm at sea into operation and is in the process of building a third. Additionally, it built 200 fast-charging ports and plans to increase that number to 250 this year. Shell offers 100% green electricity for electric driving in The Netherlands.

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