Shell’s Appeal of Landmark Climate Ruling to Begin in April

January 17, 2024 by and

Shell Plc’s appeal against a landmark ruling that ordered the oil and gas giant to cut its carbon emissions by 45% over the next decade will begin in April.

The London-based oil and gas giant is seeking to reverse what was a watershed moment for the oil industry. A trio of judges in The Hague said Shell must reduce total emissions by 45% by 2030 from 2019 levels, equivalent to 740 million tons a year of carbon dioxide. The ruling was not suspended pending the outcome of the appeal and did not prescribe how Shell should slash its emissions.

Shell will face the Dutch arm of Friends of the Earth in court over four days between April 2 and April 12 in a bid to overturn the 2021 ruling, both parties said in response to questions from Bloomberg. Shell has argued that the court’s decision unjustly singled the company out, while Milieudefensie, as the Friends of the Earth arm is called, says it is confident it will win the appeal.

Shell to Appeal Landmark Climate Ruling in Dutch Court

Immediately after the ruling Shell said it would accelerate its carbon-emission cuts. But since Wael Sawan took over as chief executive officer a year ago the company has directed a greater proportion of its investment into oil and gas. In June, Shell said it would no longer seek to cut oil production by 1% to 2% annually, having achieved its initial output-reduction plan earlier than anticipated.

“The new CEO has backtracked plans to produce less oil and gas and Shell continues to invest in new in oil and gas projects,” said Milieudefensie spokesperson Sjoukje van Oosterhout. The group said it has raised €650,000 ($707,000) through more than 10,000 donations to fight the appeal.

“Shell’s aim is to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050. Appealing does not change this,” a company spokesperson said. “However, the judgment is ineffective and even counterproductive to reducing global emissions. There are also aspects that are just not feasible – or even reasonable – to expect Shell, or any single company, to achieve.”

Dutch law allows other interested parties to join some legal proceedings. The appeals court accepted an application from a foundation called Milieu en Mens to participate in the hearings. It argues that the verdict against Shell could result in significantly higher energy prices for individual consumer.

Shell said it will conduct its appeal separately from the group, which didn’t immediately respond to questions from Bloomberg.

Photograph: Fire burns from a flare stack at the PCK Schwedt oil refinery, formerly owned by Rosneft PJSC and now controlled by the German government, beyond a Shell Plc gas station in Schwedt, Germany, on Monday, March 20, 2023. Photo credit: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg