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Shell Faces Historic Legal Action in Netherlands for Failure to Act on Climate Change

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A fire broke out at Royal Dutch Shell's Puget Sound refinery in Anacortes, WA in 2010. -jon / Flickr

Friends of the Earth Netherlands announced Wednesday that it will take Shell to court if it does not act on demands to stop its destruction of the climate.

"Shell is among the ten biggest climate polluters worldwide," said Donald Pols, director of Friends of the Earth Netherlands. "It has known for over 30 years that it is causing dangerous climate change, but continues to extract oil and gas and invests billions in the search and development of new fossil fuels."


The case is supported by Friends of the Earth International, which campaigns for climate justice for people across the world impacted by dirty energy and climate change. Friends of the Earth International has 75 member groups globally, many of them working to stop Shell extracting fossil fuels in their country.

"This case matters for people everywhere," said Karin Nansen, chair of Friends of the Earth International. "Shell is doing enormous damage worldwide—climate change and dirty energy have devastating impacts around the world, but especially in the global South. With this lawsuit we have a chance to hold Shell to account."

Friends of the Earth Netherlands' case is part of a growing global movement to hold companies to account for their contribution to dangerous climate change. In January, the city of New York went to court to claim compensation from the five largest oil companies, including Shell, for the consequences of climate change.

The cities of San Francisco and Oakland as well as several other counties in California are doing the same. A Peruvian farmer is suing the German energy company RWE for its contribution to glaciers melting above his village caused by climate change. The Friends of the Earth Netherlands case is unique because it is the first climate lawsuit demanding that a fossil fuel company acts on climate change, rather than seeking compensation.

This ground-breaking case, if successful, would significantly limit Shell's investments in oil and gas globally by requiring them to comply with climate-targets.

Nansen added, "If we win this case, it has major consequences for other fossil companies, and opens the door for further legal action against other climate polluters. Friends of the Earth International wants to see binding rules for corporations like Shell who so often regard themselves as being above the law, including when it comes to climate goals."

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