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Shell judgment raises many questions for other major polluters


Shell judgment raises many questions for other major polluters

Jeroen Segenhout Caitlin Stooker Jan Verbeek 

The judge is forcing Shell to make more efforts to reduce its CO₂ emissions. 

In brief:

  • Oil company Shell is forced by the court to tighten up its climate policy.
  • Chemical companies are now concerned.
  • The big question is how far the Shell judgment reaches.

‘Alarm bells have gone off all over the world. I’ve already had enough phone calls’, says chairman Bernard Wientjes of the association of Dutch chemical companies VNCI. He notes that unrest has broken out in the industrial boardrooms now that the court in The Hague has demanded that Shell tighten up its climate policy.

Multinationals mainly want to know the scope of the verdict. ‘If court rulings in the Netherlands make life impossible for companies in other countries, then we have a serious problem,’ says Wientjes. “So that must be investigated.”

It is clear that the Shell case will be continued. Friends of the Earth Netherlands director Donald Pols said on Wednesday on TV program Nieuwsuur that he would rather see companies take action themselves. But if that doesn’t happen, more lawsuits will follow.

Best efforts obligation

The judge ruled that Shell must have reduced its CO₂ emissions by 45% net by 2030 compared to 2019. The current plans of most major polluters in the Netherlands do not come close to that.


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