Friends of the Earth demands the oil firm move away from fossil fuels to comply with Paris deal
Jonathan WattsFirst published on Wed 4 Apr 2018 10.30 BST
The global flurry of legal campaigns against “big oil” has widened, with Royal Dutch Shell being threatened with legal action unless it steps up efforts to comply with the Paris climate agreement.
Friends of the Earth Netherlands on Wednesday demanded the Anglo-Dutch company revise plans to invest only 5% in sustainable energy and 95% in greenhouse-gas emitting oil and gas.
The environmental group said this business strategy would increase the impact of climate change, especially on the world’s poorest people and those most prone to flooding. It has given Shell eight weeks to shift to a cleaner tack, after which it says it is prepared to invoke international obligations, human rights treaties and laws on hazardous negligence.
Heading the group’s legal team is Roger Cox, who led and won a landmark climate case in 2015 that insisted the Dutch government should set more ambitious emissions targets.
“This is the first case we know of in the world that seeks preventive action from a company over climate change,” Cox told the Guardian. “We are not asking for damages. We want Shell to steer away from its current course and to get in line with the Paris agreement.”
Shell is one of the world’s 10 biggest carbon emitters. In its annual report last year, the company publicly declared support for the Paris climate deal. It has also outlined “decarbonisation pathways” to move away from dependency on fossil fuels, but environmentalists are frustrated at the glacial pace of change and the weak investment in renewables and carbon capture technology.
Friends of the Earth says the company should be held to account for the approximately 2% of the historical emissions of carbon dioxide and methane it has added to the atmosphere between 1854 and 2010. It has previously taken the company to court for the damage it caused around oil fields in Nigeria.