Climate change

Shell company pledges to accelerate efforts to low carbon emissions after the court verdict

Shell company has pledged to accelerate a shift to low carbon emissions after a court verdict in Netherlands. The company’s chief executive, Ben van Beurden has promised in a blog post on Linkedin.

The firm would take “some bold but measured steps,” He wrote.

The Shell company was ordered to cut its CO2 emissions by 45% in a landmark climate case. A panel of judges at the district court in The Hague ruled that the company’s policies on the subject were vague. The judges ruled that Shell should be taking responsibility itself to cut emissions much faster.

The Netherlands-based court added that the giant oil and gas company must comply by 2030. In their verdict, the judges ruled that the Shell group is responsible for its CO2 emissions and those of its suppliers.

Mr van Beurden said Shell will appeal against the ruling but will hasten the transition process to low carbon.

“The court has said its decision applies immediately and should not be suspended pending an appeal,” he wrote on the networking site LinkedIn.

“For Shell, this ruling does not mean a change, but rather an acceleration of our strategy.”

The climate case dubbed “the People versus Shell”, was launched in 2019 by the Netherlands branch of Friends of the Earth. It was backed by six other groups and more than 17,000 Netherland citizens. 

As a result, Shell was ordered to cut its CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030. The ruling applies to the firm’s activities worldwide.

Mr van Beurden said: “I still feel disappointed that Shell is being singled out by a ruling that I believe does not help reduce global CO2 emissions.”

But he said the firm was determined to “rise to the challenge”.

Mr van Beurden said the firm had set “rigorous, short-term reduction targets” aimed at achieving net-zero by 2050, including an energy transition strategy published in April, which came too late to be considered by the court.

Mr van Beurden’s post said, “For a long time to come we expect to continue providing energy in the form of oil and gas products both to meet customer demand and to maintain a financially strong company,” 

“We need this financial strength to keep attracting investment in Shell. So we can deliver the energy the world needs, invest in lower-carbon energy, and support livelihoods in communities where we operate, as well as those of our customers, employees, and contractors.”

He said to achieve transition away from fossil fuels, measures should be taken to address demand, not just supply.

“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.”

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