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Environmental Group Vows To Sue Shell Over Climate Change

By Tsvetana Paraskova – Apr 04, 2018, 6:00 PM CDT

In the latest legal campaign against Big Oil, Friends of the Earth Netherlands vowed on Wednesday to take Shell to court if it doesn’t act on demands to align its corporate strategy with the global climate objectives.

“Shell is liable for its substantial contribution to climate change and for the associated social and environmental damages,” Friends of the Earth Netherlands, or Milieudefensie as it is known in Dutch, said in a letter sent to Shell’s chief executive Ben van Beurden today.

The organization requests a written response on behalf of Shell within eight weeks in which the Anglo-Dutch supermajor 1) accept “legal responsibility to amend its corporate strategy and investment decisions and to align them with the global climate objectives as laid down in the Paris Agreement,” 2) “phase out its oil and gas production and will reduce the emissions associated with its energy products to zero by 2050” and 3) that “Shell comes to an agreement with Milieudefensie to further elaborate, implement, embed and publicly report on this critical challenge, including by adopting interim emission reduction targets.” 

“In the absence of a response within eight weeks, Milieudefensie will conclude that Shell refuses to comply with this request. This will leave Milieudefensie no other option than to sue Shell and request the competent court to compel Shell to take the required action,” the organization said.

Shell’s van Beurden said at the end of last year that Shell aims to cut its net carbon footprint of the energy it sells by 20 percent by 2035.

Friends of the Earth, however, does not see that as enough, saying that Shell’s plans to invest US$23-29 billion each year, of which only US$1-2 billion in is earmarked for more sustainable technologies, “is simply not acceptable”.

“This historic case could set a powerful legal precedent: if we win, one of the world’s biggest polluters will have to stop its climate wrecking activities,” the organization said today.

This legal campaign is the latest in a flurry of people vs Big Oil lawsuits in recent months.

In January, New York City sued BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon, and Shell, seeking “to recover the billions needed to fund climate change resiliency measures that the City needs to implement to protect the City, its property, and its residents from the ongoing and increasingly severe impacts of climate change.”

Later the same month, NYC mayor Bill de Blasio threatened Big Oil with more lawsuits.

Last month, actor and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger accused Big Oil of first-degree murder and said that he planned to sue the supermajors.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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