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Dutch court opens Shell climate case to public showdown

Court opts for faster and more public process in historic case to force Shell to act on climate change


AMSTERDAM – WEBWIRE

The spotlight will now be firmly on the Shell climate case, instigated by Friends of the Earth Netherlands along with six other organisations and more than 17000 co-plaintiffs(1). The Dutch court has announced four public sessions in December 2020. This decision will importantly allow for greater public scrutiny and a potentially faster process, unlike in the Dutch Urgenda case for example, where parties responded to each other mainly in writing, with a hearing following much later in the process.

This is a positive development, because the aim of the case is to force Shell to reduce its CO2 emissions as quickly as possible. Public hearings are also beneficial to the case, as Friends of the Earth Netherlands director Donald Pols explains, The publicity and international nature of this case could help stop Shell from getting away with telling a greenstory while continuing to aggravate the climate crisis.” 

Pols is relieved that the battle won’t be reduced to an obscure fight on paper, as this will protect the public interest angle of this case, and contribute to the social debate on the role of transnational corporations such as Shell, which are richer and more powerful than some entire countries, yet manage to shirk their responsibilities in the climate crisis.”

Planned course of the process:
  • On 1 September and 30 October 2020, all parties will provide their evidence for factual and legal justification.
  • At the same time the judge will clarify which questions the parties should explore in greater depth during the hearings.
  • There will be four days of hearings on 1, 3, 15 and 17 December 2020.

“Shell continues unabated in its path of climate destruction. This is an urgent, groundbreaking climate case with potentially huge implications for Shell and other corporate polluters who show complete disregard for justice and peoples hardest hit by climate impacts, especially in the global South,” commented Sara Shaw, Friends of the Earth International Climate Coordinator. 

Donald Pols added, The fossil fuel giant claims to be fully involved in the energy transition, but still invests 25 billion euros a year in polluting activities. Shell must put an end to its Co2 emissions as soon as possible and this court decision means the case may have a ruling by the spring of 2021. Not a moment too soon - the climate can not wait.”

 References and notes for editors:

(1) With 17.379 co-plaintiffs and six organisations: ActionAid, Both ENDS, Fossielvrij NL, Greenpeace Netherlands, Young Friends of the Earth Netherlands  and the Waddenvereniging. 

Shell’s reply to court summons in historic climate case shows its stubborn refusal to stop destroying the climate:
www.foei.org/features/shell-reply-court-summons-climate

On 5 April 2019, Friends of the Earth Netherlands delivered a court summons to Shell to legally compel the company to cease its destruction of the climate, on behalf of more than 30,000 people from 70 countries.
www.foei.org/press_releases/climate-legal-summons-submitted-shell

Legal Summons summary:
www.foei.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/english-summary-of-legal-summons.pdf

Legal Summons in full, unofficial translation from Dutch original:
www.foei.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/2019-04-05-SUMMONS-dagvaarding-unofficial-translation-of-the-Dutch-original.pdf

Interview with Roger Cox, leading lawyer in Friends of the Earth’s case against Shell:
rwr.fm/interviews/friends-of-earth-netherlands-has-presented-shell-with-a-court-summons-to-stop-its-destruction-of-the-climate/

Legal letter to Shell, 4 April 2018:
www.foei.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Milieudefensie_legal_letter_Shell_4-April-2018.pdf

Shell’s response to legal letter, 28 May 2018:
www.foei.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Royal-Dutch-Shell-plc_legal_response_28-May-218.pdf


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