The Dutch District Court in The Hague ordered Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) to reduce its CO2 emissions by a total of 45% including its entire business chain, from suppliers to customers, by 2030 as compared to 2019 levels. Ruling in the plaintiffs’ – Milieudefensie a.o.’s – favour, the Court found that Shell’s existing corporate policy risks violating its unwritten duty of care to assist in preventing further dangerous climate change. Human rights – both the right to life and the right to respect for private and family life – are at the foundation of this decision.
Following the ground-breaking Urgenda decision, which ordered the Dutch government to take more action to prevent dangerous climate change, yesterday’s decision marks yet another landmark judgment. It is the first time a Court has ordered a large company to comply with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. What moved the Court to issue this far-reaching judgment? How does this ruling fit within the broader trends in climate change litigation? And will the decision have ramifications internationally?