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The appeal of the climate case against Shell starts today in The Hague. Three years ago, Shell was defeated by Milieudefensie in a court case. Among other things, it ordered the company to reduce emissions by 45 percent. Now Shell disputes this obligation, arguing that it is a matter for the government.

Why you need to know this:

The climate case against Shell has significant global implications because it puts the responsibility of large corporations for climate change under the microscope.


Milieudefensie stands strong with 650 new pieces of evidence. According to Milieudefensie, addressing emissions caused by Shell’s customers is vital, as they account for a large proportion of total emissions.

A recent study by Milieudefensie shows that Shell plans to continue investing in hundreds of oil and gas projects for decades to come. Milieudefensie argues that this puts people’s lives at risk.

Shell’s arguments

Shell recognizes the need to combat climate change and stresses that the company is investing billions in green energy projects. However, they argue that the approach of Milieudefensie is not the right one. According to Shell, there is no legal basis for the ruling and divesting activities would only lead to takeover by other companies, with no net environmental gain.

Frans Everts, chief executive officer of Shell Netherlands, has publicly stated that a court ruling against one company is not a suitable solution for the energy transition. In doing so, Shell revised its target for reducing CO2 emissions to 15 to 20 percent by 2030, pointing to the use of biodiesel and biokerosene as part of their strategy.

Impact on industry

A ruling in favor of Milieudefensie could set a precedent for corporate responsibility regarding climate change. This would affect not only Shell, but the entire fossil fuel industry. It could force companies to rethink their business models and switch more quickly to renewable energy sources.

Ban on advertising

The earlier rulings against Shell also led to political and social reactions calling for a ban on fossil fuel advertising, similar to the ban on tobacco advertising. This has led to Parliamentary questions from the political parties GroenLinks, PvdA and Party for the Animals. Interest groups such as Advertising Fossil Free, Greenpeace, WWF and ActionAid have also expressed support for such a ban in the Netherlands and across the EU.